After releasing its Ryugu samples Hayabusa-2’s mission will continue


Genesis cover

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Japan’s space agency JAXA has revealed that it is looking at two fast-spinning asteroids as possible destinations for its Hayabusa-2 spacecraft after it has dropped off its samples from the asteroid Ryugu on December 6.

The candidate asteroids on the agency’s list are asteroid 2001AV43 which Hayabusa2 would reach in November 2029 after flying by Venus, and asteroid 1998KY26 which the probe would reach in July 2031 after passing by another asteroid.

JAXA says both asteroids are rotating on their axis once every 10 minutes. The high-speed spinning indicates that the asteroids’ inner structures are likely different from that of asteroid Ryugu on the first mission, which consists of pieces of rocks.

The spacecraft will no longer have the equipment for returning additional samples, but everything else is functioning and it has the fuel.

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One comment

  • LocalFluff

    They are both only 30 meter diameter objects.
    Impressive that they count on a 10 year mission extension! And it’s interesting that orbital mechanics allows for improvising second targets like this. As with New Horizons looking for a third target, to be determined next year if a suitable candidate is found by telescope surveys planned. Also, Dawn could orbit two asteroids, and not any but the two largest, as if they could pick and chose at will. It used to be claimed that in space one cannot choose where to go so much, but it is being done.

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