On December 6, the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency, JAXA, added another feather to its cap by achieving a magnificent space feat. JAXA’s robotic spacecraft Hayabusa 2 travelled to a near-earth asteroid called Ryugu, dug into its soil, retrieved the sample and returned with it to earth.
A specially designed 16-kilo capsule on Hayabusa 2 encapsulated the soil samples and later dropped it down in the Australian outback of Woomera. It was quickly retrieved by experts who carefully transported it to the Japanese agency.
JAXA is a pioneer in such ‘sample return missions,’ holding the world record for being the first to send robotic probes to asteroids and bring back samples successfully.
Hayabusa 2 is JAXA’s second such mission and a successor of its first mission the Hayabusa sent to another asteroid about a decade and a half ago.
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