The Japanese spacecraft will make the first attempt to capture samples of the target asteroid in February. Since June 2018, the probe of Hayabusa-2 has been studying the asteroid Ryugu, resembling a rhombus. On February 18, it should approach the surface of a 900-meter space rock.
This will be the first of three forays to sample material. To do this, use the “kinetic shock element” and collect samples from a fresh crater. If everything goes according to plan, then the material extracted will arrive on Earth in December 2021. Scientists from all over the world will study it in order to find clues to the evolution of the Solar System and determine the role of carbon-rich asteroids in the origin of life on Earth.
The 900-meter asteroid Ryugu, photographed by the Japanese probe Hayabusa-2 in June 2018 The February event does not mark the first landing of the mission. At the end of September, the ship deployed two tiny jumping rovers (OWL and HIBOU) on the surface, and after two weeks they were followed by the German landing gear MASCOT. The latter collected information for 17 hours, after which the battery stopped working.
It is worth noting that in Japanese folklore Ryugu is an underwater palace, which the fisherman Urashima Taro visited. His name has already been named one of the craters found. NASA also has a ship that studies a carbon asteroid. This is OSIRIS-REx, which revolves around the 500-meter Bennu from December 31st. In mid-2020, he should take a sample and deliver to Earth in September 2023.