✓Japan’s Hayabusa2 spacecraft carrying asteroid soil samples nears Earth
✓Japan’s Hayabusa2 spacecraft left the asteroid Ryugu a year ago and is expected to reach Earth and drop a capsule containing the precious samples in southern Australia
✓The soil samples and data from the asteroid could provide clues to the origins of the solar system.
✓Hayabusa2 project is an asteroid sample-return mission operated by the Japanese space agency, JAXA.
✓It carried multiple science payloads for remote sensing, sampling, and four small rovers that will investigate the asteroid surface to inform the environmental and geological context of the samples collected.
✓The scientific objectives of Hayabusa2 mission are twofold:
To characterize the asteroid from remote sensing observations (with multispectral cameras, near-infrared spectrometer, thermal infrared imager, laser altimeter) on a macroscopic scale
✓To analyse the samples returned from the asteroid on a microscopic scale.
✓Ryugu is a C-type asteroid – a relic from the early days of the Solar System. Scientists think that C-type asteroids contain both organic matter, and trapped water, and might have been responsible for bringing both to Earth, thereby providing the planet with the materials necessary for life to originate.