Here it comes! Earth is just about to receive its second sample of asteroid.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA) Hayabusa2 explorer spacecraft is on its return journey after collecting samples from the asteroid Ryugu.

It’s due to come come back to Earth with its valuable asteroid samples on 6th December. The target location is South Australia.

What’s the Hayabusa2 Mission all about?

The explorer travelled to the 4.5 billion-year-old asteroid Ryugu, completing two sample collections on 21 February and 11 July 2019, and will be the first ever sub-surface asteroid sample to return to Earth. The mission will provide critical information about the origin and evolution of the solar system.

Hayabusa 2 Touchdown
Hayabusa 2 touchdown on asteroid Ryugu. Illustration by Akihiro Ikeshita

When did it leave Earth?

Hayabusa2 launched from Japan’s Tanegashima Space Center on 3rd December 2014. After a 3.5-year journey it has travelled almost 3.2 million kilometres.

What is Australia’s Involvement?

Here’s the exciting part coming up!

The sample return capsule will touch down at the Woomera Prohibited Area (WPA) in South Australia on 6th December. The Commonwealth and South Australian Government have been supporting JAXA by co-ordinating the safe arrival, recovery, and subsequent return of samples to Japan.

Clearance was granted for the landing, which is referred to as an AROLSO: Authorisation of Return of Overseas-Launched Space Object.

There’s no access to the WPA and the Stuart Highway will be closed for re-entry. However, for keen followers there’s an app! Watch the re-entry of Hayabusa2 in augmented reality.

Or you can follow the recovery team on the Desert Fireball Network website!

The Hayabusa 2 reentering Earth's atmosphere
Hyabusa 2 re-entry. Illustration by Akihiro Ikeshita

How many kilometres until arrival?

Follow the progress of hayabusa2’s return to earth. JAXA is counting down the kilometres! Watch the countdown to touch down!

excited about space?

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Carol Redford - Founder Stargazers Club WA



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