The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA) Hayabusa2 asteroid explorer is returning to Earth.
The sample return capsule will land in Australia’s Woomera Prohibited Area on 6 December 2020. The capsule has samples from the 4.5 billion year old asteroid Ryugu on board. This is the first ever sub-surface asteroid sample to return to Earth.
Dr Megan Clark AC, Head of the Australian Space Agency commented on the importance of this collaboration.
“This is an exciting mission; our regulatory role is to ensure the safety of space activities. More broadly, we have been supporting JAXA by co-ordinating efforts across the Commonwealth and South Australian Government to plan for the sample capsule’s recovery and return to Japan.”
By studying the sample, scientists will gain insights into the origin and evolution of the solar system. This may also help scientists relate to our oceans and life formed here on Earth. The two space agencies are working in close cooperation to realise this mission. This international cooperation is being carefully planned through the added challenges caused by COVID-19.
Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, Karen Andrews authorised the return in August 2020. JAXA will continue operations for the safe return of Hayabusa2 and the recovery of the capsule.