In the desert region of Australia, a capsule of rock samples from the asteroid Ryuku, carried by the Japanese probe “Hayabusa2” from a long space trip, successfully reached Earth.
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The small capsule, only 40 centimeters in diameter, detached from the probe at an altitude of 220,000 kilometers, entered the Earth’s atmosphere at an altitude of 120 kilometers and opened a parachute at an altitude of ten kilometers, while the probe itself, called “Falcon” Was redirected to a new mission to another distant asteroid that it could reach in ten years.
A team of Japanese scientists reported that the capsule had already been found flying over the area by helicopter.
“We found the capsule! With the whole parachute!” tweeted by JAXA.
The landing operation required great precision. In the area of the proposed capsule landing, the agency deployed a number of satellites to receive the signals it was transmitting, using radars, drones and search helicopters.
It is not planned to open the capsule in Australia, but to deliver it to Japan and start analyzing its contents in June next year.
The Hayabusa2 mission was launched in December 2014; Specimens of rocks 6 billion years old.
Scientists hope these samples, taken below the asteroid’s surface, will provide insight into the evolution of the solar system. Studies to date have suggested that these rocks may contain water and possibly organic matter, such as amino acids, which may have been “the source of life on Earth,” the researchers said.
The name of the asteroid in Ryugu means “Dragon Castle”, and in Japanese mythology it means dragon castle at the bottom of the ocean.