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Hayabusa2, the asteroid sample-return mission operated by the Japanese space agency, JAXA, tweeted on Thursday that its critical operation PPTD-TM1A has come to a close, earlier than planned.
Hayabusa2 was launched on December 3, 2014. It planned to arrive at a C-type asteroid by mid-2018, staying there for one and half years. It plans to leave the asteroid at the end of 2019 and return to Earth around the end of 2020.
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This news follows from JAXA's previous deep space exploration missions Hayabusa. It has inherited and improves the already verified know-how established by Hayabusa to construct the basis for future deep-space exploration.
Broken down into five shifts, Hayabusa2's goal is to clarify the origin and the evolution of the solar system as well as life matter. The mission has targeted a "C-type' asteroid, Ryugu, for this study and potential discovery.
[PPTD-TM1A] May 29 at 10:30 JST: the first shift for PPTD-TM1A has begun. Similar to PPTD-TM1 (May 14-16), the aim is to observe at low altitude and drop a target marker. Preparatory work for the descent began yesterday and the spacecraft is currently at the home position.— [email protected] (@haya2e_jaxa) May 29, 2019
In order to understand the evolution of the solar system, according to JAXA, it is imperative to target specific types of asteroids, for example C-type, as they are considered to contain more organic or hydrated minerals.
[PPTD-TM1A] This is the image received on May 30 at 8:55 JST. The depression below the central equator is the Momotaro Crater and the adjacent depression is the Kibidango Crater. Meanwhile, the depression diagonally to the left is the Cendrillon Crater (French for Cinderella). pic.twitter.com/6hgIyvClXZ— [email protected] (@haya2e_jaxa) May 30, 2019
Shift 5 of Hayabusa2 project safely done and dusted
JAXA keeps all interested followers up to date with the mission through regular tweets and live location sharing. The following tweet was sent out on Thursday 30 May, 2019:
[PPTD-TM1A] Sorry for the wait! Here’s an animation of the target marker separation. This was taken today (May 30) by the ONC-W1 from 11:19 - 11:23 JST (onboard time) at an altitude between 10m - 40m. We were able to drop in the CO1 area as planned (? JAXA, Chiba Inst. of Tech). pic.twitter.com/MKdq9Pimk7— [email protected] (@haya2e_jaxa) May 30, 2019
What will happen next?
Operations continue as normal, as JAXA Hayabusa2's tweet has stated.