A Japanese space mission will be delivering samples collected from the asteroid Ryugu in a capsule to the Woomera outback desert in South Australia this Sunday morning.
A leading expert from the Australian National University (ANU) who will analyze the samples says he can provide important insights into the origins of life on earth.
The underground material collected by the asteroid is given up by Hayabusa2. Examination of the returned material begins almost immediately.
The mission aims to shed light on the nature of the asteroids and the origins of the planets in our solar system, as well as the origins of the earth’s water, which is vital to all life.
ANU space rock expert Professor Trevor Ireland, who is a member of the Hayabusa2 science team, is waiting in Woomera for the asteroid sample to arrive, which he will analyze in the laboratory.
« I expect the Hayabusa2 samples from the asteroid Ryugu will be very similar to the meteorite that fell in Australia near Murchison, Victoria, more than 50 years ago, » said Professor Ireland of the ANU Research School of Earth Sciences.
“The Murchison meteorite opened a window to the formation of organic matter on earth, as it was found that these rocks contain simple amino acids and abundant water. ”
Professor Ireland said his work would help answer big questions about the diamond-shaped asteroid, which is about a kilometer in diameter and in orbit between Earth and Mars.
« We will investigate whether Ryugu was a potential source of organic matter and water on Earth when the solar system was formed, and whether these are still intact on the asteroid, » he said.
“This most abundant C-type asteroid appears to be similar to Murchison’s meteorites – rare carbonaceous chondrites filled with organic molecules and water.
“We will also discover the history of this curious-looking asteroid. The other debris pileasteroid, Itokawa, is quite young. Will Ryugu turn out to be much older? “
The ANU astronomer Dr. Brad Tucker said the technology has enabled space missions to regularly land on objects in space and return to Earth.
« When China’s Chang’e 5 mission lands on the moon and returns in late December, with Osiris-Rex and future missions planned, we can get our hands dirty and learn a lot about the solar system and our own planet, » said Dr. Tucker from the ANU Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics.
“Future space and reconnaissance missions must be able to extract resources from space. Missions like Hayabusa2 lay the foundation for this endeavor. ”
Asteroid, Hayabusa2, Earth, JAXA, spacecraft, Japan, 162173 Ryugu, Hayabusa
World News – AU – An asteroid sample bound in Australia may reveal the origins of life
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