Japanese space agency JAXA prepares for the next part of its space ship Hayabusa2 following the asteroid since June 201
, Short on the surface to collect deposits of space rock. The agency will send images of Ryugu and a video of the control room during the critical sampling mission.
The spaceshiphas already made a short landing on the Great Space Rock and then an artificial crater was to be created on the surface of the asteroid. Next, the spacecraft descends again to touch Ryugu a second time to collect a portion of the material exposed beneath the surface by the crater-producing explosion.
Think of it as extremely complicated, very small asteroid degradation.
Hayabusa2's contact with Ryugu is expected to take place at 19.00. PT Wednesday. During the approach of Hayabusa2 the mission website is constantly being provided with a live feed with pictures. In addition, JAXA will send live streams from its mission control system from approximately 90 minutes before 17:30. PT, and you can come back over the embedding below to see.
Because asteroids like Ryugu are a kind of time capsule from the Solar System, scientists hope the samples will give new insights into the history of our corner of the cosmos. "This will be the world's first collection of samples from different locations and also the first sample from below the surface" of an asteroid, according to a blog post by the mission team.
Hayabusa2 is equipped with a system that fires a small ball on the asteroid surface at close range and stirs up dust and dirt, which can then be collected via a horn-shaped sample collection chamber.
JAXA has expressed some uncertainty as to whether the risks associated with attempting a second setup on Ryugu's rough, rock-strewn surface are outweighed by the scientific value of obtaining this historical sample. There is also the problem that dust is whirled up when the first touchdown sticks to a navigation camera and lets in less light.
However, after further analysis, the team has determined that the risks associated with a second touch are the same as or lower than the first one.
NASA is in the midst of its own mission to mark asteroids, Osiris-Rex, which is currently preparing.
Originally published on July 9th.