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On This Day in Space! Dec. 3, 2014: Japan launches Hayabusa2 to sample an asteroid

On Dec. 3, 2014, Japan launched the Hayabusa2 spacecraft on a mission to fetch a sample from an asteroid. 

The asteroid is named 162173 Ryugu, but it's also known as 1999 JU3. Hayabusa2 lifted off from the Tanegashima Space Center on a Japanese H-IIA rocket. It arrived at the asteroid three and a half years later in 2018. Hayabusa2 brought along four small rovers to drop on the asteroid's surface.  

Artist's concept of Japan’s proposed Hayabusa 2 spacecraft, which would reconnoiter asteroid 1999 JU3 in mid-2018. Hayabusa 2 would hurl an impactor into the asteroid, sample the resulting crater and send pieces back to Earth for study.  (Image credit: JAXA/Akihiro Ikeshita)

After searching for a good landing site, the Hayabusa2 mothership descended to the Ryugu's surface, scooped up some asteroid dirt and aimed to return the sample to Earth by the end of 2020. 

By studying the asteroid sample up close, scientists hope to learn more about the history of our solar system.

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Hanneke Weitering

Hanneke Weitering is an editor at Space.com with 10 years of experience in science journalism. She has previously written for Scholastic Classroom Magazines, MedPage Today and The Joint Institute for Computational Sciences at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. After studying physics at the University of Tennessee in her hometown of Knoxville, she earned her graduate degree in Science, Health and Environmental Reporting (SHERP) from New York University. Hanneke joined the Space.com team in 2016 as a staff writer and producer, covering topics including spaceflight and astronomy. She currently lives in Seattle, home of the Space Needle, with her cat and two snakes. In her spare time Hanneke likes to explore the Rocky Mountains, basking in nature and looking for dark skies to gaze at the cosmos. 

  • The Exoplanets Channel
    Very interesting
    Reply
  • Arc Light
    Just so you know, the X-15 took off from Edwards AFB under the wing of a B-52 & was airdropped over Delamar Dry Lake, Nevada. The flight to the altitude record wasn't planned, but the rocket engine burned for two seconds longer than expected. The test flight was scheduled to peak at 280,000', but actually reached 314, 750' due to the extra rocket burn time.
    Reply
  • Fourth Root
    Misleading wording. Bob White did not set the world altitude record on July 17th, 1962. Four Astronauts and two cosmonauts had flown higher prior to his flight. One could say it was the highest manned flight of a winged craft. But that's not the wording that was used.
    Reply
  • DrRaviSharma
    On this date in 1969, I was part of NASA Apollo Team

    Contributed to Experiments in orbit and on Surface of Moon (ALSEP) etc.also trained astronauts

    Studied containation on and ouside Spacecraft.

    The Moon gave me employment to work for 5 Years on exciting Human Space flight Programs Skylab, Planning of Space Station and Space Shuttle

    See My picture taken with Buzz Aldrin in 2009
    https://www.space.com/india-moon-landing-not-a-failure.html
    I received Apollo Achievement Award from NASA dated July 20, 1969.

    Thanks Hanneke Weitering for today's Historic post

    Ravi
    Dr. Ravi Sharma
    Reply
  • Mergatroid
    "Allegedly, the moon turns green because of its close proximity to Uranus"

    I'm sorry about that. I hear they have been investigating x-rays from the same source. I had no idea. I'll get a doctor to check into it.

    Sorry everyone.

    Sorry...
    Reply