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Japanese probe begins return trip to Earth with asteroid’s sample

publicado a la‎(s)‎ 18 nov 2019, 4:28 por Plataforma Sites Dgac   [ actualizado el 31 ago 2020, 9:15 ]
Mission controllers with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) told the Hayabusa2 spacecraft to turn toward home at 10:05 a.m. local time Nov. 13 (8:05 p.m. EST Nov. 12; 0105 GMT Nov. 13).
The Ryugu asteroid, photographed by the Hayabusa2 space probe.

The mission control team from the 
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) for the Hayabusa 2 probe, which landed on the Ryugu asteroid.
That command marks the beginning of the last stage of the mission, which launched in December 2014 to explore and sample an asteroid dubbed Ryugu and also included deploying several smaller robots onto the rocky body.

After more than a year packed full of work at the rocky body, mission scientists will now spend a year waiting for the spacecraft's return to Earth.

“After the applause, Project Manager (Yuichi) Tsuda murmured a goodbye that sounded both affectionate and a touch lonely,” mission personnel wrote on the spacecraft’s Twitter.

Samples’ study

The spacecraft will adjust its position and turn on its ion engine in preparation for the long journey back to Earth, which will officially begin on Dec. 3, according to JAXA.

The voyage back to Earth will take the spacecraft about a year. When Hayabusa2 arrives near Earth, it will eject the capsule containing samples gathered from Ryugu. That capsule should touch down in the Australian Outback and then will return to space to perform other missions.

That material should include both surface rocks and samples from inside asteroid Ryugu, excavated by firing a bullet at the asteroid. Taken together, the samples should help the team understand the history of the rocky body the spacecraft spent so long dancing around.

(Source: Space.com)