Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) celebrated its successful Hayabusa2 mission as a specialized capsule dropped off rare asteroid samples – 100 milligrams to be exact – before moving on to the next part of its extended mission of visiting more space rocks. These samples come from Ryugu, a half-mile-wide asteroid that travels through our solar system up to 131 million miles from the sun. Hayabusa-2 was first launched in 2014 with the aim of collecting the first sample of material from below an asteroid’s surface. Read more for two videos and additional information.
Asteroids are essentially the leftovers of our early solar system, 4.5 billion years ago, and what scientists may discover in these primitive space rocks could answer a lot of questions about the solar system’s history. Ryugu, a C-type asteroid, is rich with organic carbon molecules, like water, and amino acids, which are the building blocks for proteins that were important to the evolution of life on Earth.
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Organic materials are the origins of life on Earth, but we still don’t know where they came from. We are hoping to find clues to the origin of life on Earth by analyzing details of the organic materials brought back by Hayabusa2,” said Makoto Yoshikawa, a Hayabusa2 project mission manager.