Japanese spacecraft approaches Earth to drop asteroid samples | UPSC CURRENT AFFAIRS
Japanese spacecraft approaches Earth to drop asteroid samples
Why in News?
Japanese space agency officials said the Hayabusa2 spacecraft is on its intended trajectory as it approaches Earth to deliver a capsule containing samples from a distant asteroid that could provide clues to the origin of the solar system and life on Earth.
- Hayabusa 2 was launched in December 2014 and is planned to complete a mission of six years.
- It arrived at Ryugu in July 2018 and will spend 18 months studying the asteroid before making its return to Earth in December 2020.
- The mission builds on the original Hayabusa mission that was launched in 2003 and successfully linked up with asteroid Itokawa in 2005.
- It returned samples to Earth in 2010 marking the first time sample materials from an asteroid were brought back to Earth.
Why Study Asteroids?
- Asteroids, like comets, are primitive bodies that can be considered to be the building blocks of the early solar system. They hold a record of the birth and initial evolution of the solar system.
- Larger planets like Earth went through a more complex evolution over which the pristine materials were melted and altered significantly. Due to this change, the materials found on large planets do not hold information into their early stages of formation.
- Comets and asteroids, formed early in the evolution of the Solar System, retain a record of when, where and in what conditions they were formed. Exploration of these primitive bodies is essential in gaining insight into the formation of the Solar System.
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