Japan’s Hayabusa2 space probe is headed back to Earth with samples from asteroid 162173 Ryugu, which is located approximately 180-million miles away. There’s just one more thing, it will capture pictures of the half-mile-wide asteroid as it fades into the blackness of space, and then the probe’s field of view will turn back toward Earth for the return journey. Read more for a video and additional information.
This mission is meant to provide isight on the composition of carbonaceous asteroids, like Ryugu, which are thought to contain the primordial stuff of the solar system. Spectroscopic readings have already confirmed that Ryugu’s rocks contain traces of water-bearing minerals, but we’ll have ti wait until late 2020 when it lands in the Australian Outback for the biggest findings.
“This is an emotional moment! It’s sad to say goodbye to Ryugu. Literally it has been at the center of our lives over the past one and a half years,” said project manager Yuichi Tsuda at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s command center.