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What asteroid Ryugu told us

9 Sep 2019, 10:07 UTC
What asteroid Ryugu told us Japanese space agency, JAXA.

Japan’s Hayabusa2 spacecraft – launched in December, 2014 – traveled some 200 million miles to near-Earth asteroid Ryugu. It closed to within 12 miles (20 km) of the asteroid’s surface in June 2018. Hayabusa2 will continue traveling with this asteroid until December 2019, when it’ll begin making its way back to Earth. It’s due to return a sample of the asteroid to scientists in December 2020. In the meantime – in two studies published this summer – the Hayabusa2 mission has already given us valuable information about asteroids like Ryugu. Among other things, it showed that, if an asteroid like Ryugu were headed toward Earth – and if we on Earth decided to send a spacecraft out in an attempt to divert the asteroid – we’d need to take “great care” in the attempt.

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