January 28, 2023

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Sciences. The solar system’s past is written on the soil of Hayabusa.

From examination of dust from the asteroid Ryugu, which was taken and returned to Earth by the Japanese probe Hayabusa 2, new clues about the history of the solar system have arrived.

In this December 6, 2020 image provided by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), a JAXA member recovers a downed capsule from Hayabusa2 in Woomera, South Australia. The Japanese capsule brought back pieces of the asteroid Ryugu.

Corner stone

According to a study of the samples, coordinated by researchers from the French University Paris Cité and the National Center for Scientific Research (Cnrs) published in Nature Astronomy, the asteroid has a composition similar to the so-called Carbon chondrite And that this type of material would have contributed 5% of our planet’s mass.

Back on Earth in 2020, the incredible Hayabusa 2 mission succeeded in the complex challenge of reaching the asteroid Ryugu, collecting samples from it and returning them intact so it could analyze them on Earth.

A mission that made it possible to study a “fossil” dating back billions of years, in the formation period of the solar system, without being altered in any way by the heat of re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere or by atmospheric agents.

The perfect sample

After two years, new details of the dust picked up by the probe are now emerging, particularly with regard to their zinc and copper composition.

Analyzes indicate that Ryugu has many properties in common with so-called carbonaceous chondrites, a rare type of meteorite that often has traces of water and amino acids within it, the building blocks of life.

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According to the authors, Ryugu is an ideal sample for estimating the initial formation of the large dust cloud from which our solar system was born more than 4 billion years ago.

The study also indicates that asteroids of this type made an important contribution, ranging between 5 and 6% of the mass, to the formation of the Earth.

SDA extension