The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) reported receiving telemetry data from the Hayabusa-2 probe. According to instrument readings, the spacecraft left Ryugu asteroid and began returning to Earth.
JAXA confirmed that at the time of the start of removal, the probe's propulsion system was operating normally, and its speed was 9.2 cm / sec. It is assumed that after overcoming Ryugu’s attraction, the spacecraft will turn on powerful ion engines with which it must return to Earth. Currently, the probe is slowly moving away from the celestial body and transmits “farewell” photographs to the flight control center.
- "Farewell" photo of Ryugu
- © DLR
The Hayabusa-2 mission to the asteroid Ryugu, located at a distance of about 300 million km from Earth, began in 2014. In the fall of 2018, the probe landed scouts on the object. In February of this year, Hayabusa-2 landed on Ryuga and took soil samples from the surface of the cosmic body, after which it returned to the orbit of the asteroid.
On April 5, 2019, a Japanese probe “attacked” Ryugu with a strike module with explosives, and he hid from the debris on the other side of the asteroid. After a cloud of dust settled and a three-month wait, the apparatus returned to the place of the explosion to collect the samples obtained.
- Hayabusa 2 lands on Ryugu asteroid
- © JAXA
The second landing of Hayabusa-2 required additional training. The device dropped two target indicators onto the asteroid, by which it was able to navigate during landing. After a quick collection of samples extracted by the explosion from the bowels, Hayabusa-2 entered Ryugu’s orbit.
The probe’s journey to Earth will take about a year. At the end of 2020, the probe should drop an incombustible capsule with collected samples onto the Earth. Scientists hope that the materials obtained will shed light on the secrets of the emergence of the solar system and the origin of life on our planet.
Recall that in the event of the successful completion of the operation, Hayabusa-2 will become the seventh vehicle to deliver space samples to Earth. Between 2003 and 2010, its predecessor, the Hayabusa probe, flew to Itokawa asteroid and delivered a capsule with more than 1,500 particles of soil collected on the surface of a celestial body.