It may have been just a “brief” time but a Japan-made spaceship was able to gather valuable information and colorful images of an asteroid on its way to circle around the sun.
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Hayabusa2 spacecraft touched down on near-Earth asteroid Ryugu,
Hayabusa2 boarded Ryugu on 21 February 2019, and departed the asteroid in December 2019. It is currently en route to Earth and will return in December 2020.
But even before that, Hayabusa2 has gathered insights about the asteroid Ryugu, a near-Earth object.
Ryugu is a dark, spinning top-shaped asteroid that measures about 3,000 feet wide.
The surface is covered in boulders. It’s also incredibly dry.
Photos captured by the spacecraft have revealed an even distribution of dark and rough rocks, as well as those that are bright and smooth. Scientists believe there are two kinds of material on the asteroid because it likely formed from the leftover rubble after its parent body was hit, said a CNN report.
Ryugu is predominately composed of red and blue materials.
Patrick Michel, study co-author and director of research at the French National Centre for Scientific Research in Paris, in an interview told CNN that the touched down made by Hayabusa2 is necessary.
“All the knowledge we are acquiring with Hayabusa2 could not be obtained from ground-based observations,” Michel said. “So, the detailed characterization of an asteroid definitely needs these space adventures!”