Hayabusa2 Current Affairs - 2019

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Spacex to Launch NASA’s Asteroid-Smashing Mission

NASA has announced that SpaceX will fly its Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) planetary-defence mission. The total launch cost for NASA is estimated to be about $69 million.

DART

Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) is a planned space probe that will demonstrate the kinetic effects of crashing an impactor spacecraft into an asteroid moon for planetary defense purposes. The mission is intended to test whether a spacecraft impact could successfully deflect an asteroid on a collision course with Earth.

DART Planetary-Defense Mission

  • DART planetary-defence mission will be will launched by the Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California in June 2021.
  • The spacecraft will slam into “Didymoon,” the 540-foot-wide (165 meters) satellite of the near-Earth asteroid Didymos which is located at about 4 million miles from Eart in October 2022.
  • Scientists will observe the impact with telescopes and measure the change in the Didymoon’s orbit around the asteroid.
  • Scientists hope to move it by just a fraction of a per cent off its path, which is enough to deflect any future asteroids off course since Didymos poses no threat to Earth.

DART won’t be the first spacecraft to wallop an asteroid. Earlier this month, Japan’s Hayabusa2 probe smashed a copper cannonball into the space rock Ryugu, to unearth pristine subsurface material for study.

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Hayabusa2 probes Asteroid Ryugu

Japanese spacecraft, Hayabusa2 has surveyed the asteroid Ryugu’s surface and landed multiple robotic probes on its rocky terrain. The findings of the probe are:

  • Asteroid Ryugu is far drier than expected. Ryugu is quite young (by asteroid standards), at around 100 million years old, this suggests its parent body was much largely devoid of water, too.
  • Ryugu has an oblate “spinning top” shape, which suggests that the rocky body may have once spun at twice its current rate.

Hayabusa2 has completed the touchdown manoeuvre to collect samples from Ryugu’s surface, which will be brought back to Earth in a return capsule in late 2020.

Hayabusa2

Hayabusa2 is an asteroid sample-return mission of the Japanese space agency, JAXA. It is the successor of Hayabusa which had returned asteroid samples in 2010. Hayabusa2 arrived at Ryugu on 27 June 2018 and would survey the asteroid Ryugu for a year and a half during which time it will also collect samples. The mission plan is expected to depart in December 2019 and return the samples to Earth in December 2020.

Asteroid Ryugu

Asteroid Ryugu is a near-Earth object and a potentially hazardous asteroid of the Apollo group. Asteroid Ryugu is a primitive carbonaceous near-Earth asteroid. Asteroid Ryugu is expected to preserve the most pristine materials in the Solar System, a mixture of minerals, ice, and organic compounds that interact with each other. The studies of Asteroid Ryugu is expected to provide additional knowledge on the origin and evolution of the inner planets and, in particular, the origin of water and organic compounds on Earth and all relevant to the origin of life on Earth.

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