JAPAN’S HAYABUSA2 MISSION
√Six years after Japan’s Hayabusa2 mission was launched, it is set to return back to Earth carrying with it samples from the one-kilometre wide Ryugu asteroid that orbits the Sun.
√The Hayabasu2 mission was launched in December 2014 when the spacecraft was sent on a six-year-long voyage to study the asteroid Ryugu and collect samples that it is now bringing back to the Earth.
√The mission is similar to NASA’s OSIRIS-REX mission that brought back samples from asteroid Bennu late in October.
√According to the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), this is the first time that a probe has visited a celestial body that is under 100 metres in diameter.
√Hayabasu2’s predecessor, the Hayabusa mission brought back samples from the asteroid Itokawa in 2010.
√Ryugu is classified as a Potentially hazardous asteroids (PHAs). It was discovered in 1999 and was given the name by the Minor Planet Center in 2015. It is 300 million kilometres from Earth and it took Hayabusa2 over 42 months to reach it.