Today the Japanese space agency, JAXA successfully launched the Hayabusa 2 spacecraft, a scientific mission that will blow a crater in the remote asteroid (162173) 1999 JU3, an Apollo class asteroid, and collect samples to return to Earth.
The spacecraft carries a kinetic impactor (space cannon) which will be fired onto the surface of the asteroid to create an artificial crater that JAXA hopes will yield samples that are less weathered by the space environment. The materials unearthed by the creation of the crater may contain organic molecules, water, or other substances not found on the surface of the asteroid.
Hayabusa 2 will be sampling material that has been isolated for 4.5 billion years and will return tangible quantities of this material for scientific study. This mission will provide a treasure trove of information about in-space resources.
JAXA is leading the way in the development of an asteroid mining and space resource economy. Deep Space Industries extends our sincere congratulations to the Haybusa team on their previous and future successes. We share the team’s passion for the exploration and development of deep space resources and congratulate them on their progressive approach to advancing the science and technology needed to extend humanity’s presence into the solar system.
The design and configuration of the spacecraft is based on the original Hayabusa which became the first mission bring back asteroid samples back to earth in 2010. The new version incorporates an improved engine and new antennas for improved communication with Earth. The Hayabusa 2 is expected to reach its target asteroid in 2018 and return to Earth with asteroid samples in December of 2020.
- Read more on the Hayabusa 2 mission at the JAXA website: http://www.jspec.jaxa.jp/e/activity/hayabusa2.html
- Get the details on asteroid (162173) 1999 JU3 at the JPL Small Body Database.