Hayabusa2 sends back Stunning Ryugu Images - Astronomy News with The Cosmic Companion May 8, 2020

Over a year after touchdown, new images of the asteroid Ryugu reveal details of the Solar System

The Hayabusa2 probe has sent back stunning images of the surface of Ryugu, giving researchers an up-close look at the asteroid’s rocky surface.

By Robert Lea

Artist’ s impression of the Hayabusa2 probe achieving touchdown on Ryugu. Image credit: JAXA

On February 21st, 2019, the Japanese space agency’s Hayabusa2 spacecraft touched down on the surface of the asteroid Ryugu — the orbit of which brings it between Earth and Mars — granting researchers at close-up look at the object’s rocky-surface. The images, released in a paper published in the journal Science, come as a precursor to samples that will be returned to the research team in December 2020.

The detailed observations promise to help astronomers better understand both the age and geological history of the body and grant insights into the material that formed the planets. Additionally, the colouration of dust grains disturbed by the landing hints at periods of rapid heating by the Sun during an orbital sweep that brought it close to our star. The discovery also has implications for the orbits of other asteroids in the solar system.

“Our results suggest that Ryugu underwent an orbital excursion near the Sun,” says Tomokatsu Morota, Nagoya University, Japan, and an author on the study. “This constrains the orbital transition processes of asteroids from the main belt to near-Earth orbit.”

Read more: https://bit.ly/Hayabusa2-Images

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