Hayabusa2 is a Japanese spacecraft that studied asteroid Ryugu, collected samples, and brought them to Earth for analysis. The spacecraft is on an extended mission to asteroid 1998 KY26.
Hayabusa2 deployed the first rovers to operate on an asteroid.
Dec. 3, 2014: Launch
Dec. 3, 2015: Earth Flyby
June 27, 2018: Arrival at the asteroid Ryugu
Sept. 21, 2018: Deployment of two Minerva-II1 rovers
Oct. 3, 2018: Deployment of MASCOT lander
Feb. 22, 2019: Deployment of impactor followed by touchdown to gather a sample
July 2019: Deployment of remaining rovers
Nov. 13, 2019: Spacecraft departs the asteroid Ryugu
Dec. 6, 2020: Hayabusa2 delivers asteroid sample to Earth
Nov. 30, 2021: JAXA delivers a sample of asteroid Ryugu to NASA
Hayabusa2 is a Japanese spacecraft that explored asteroid Ryugu (162173) from June 2018 to November 2019. It dispatched a series of landers and a penetrator, and it collected multiple samples from the asteroid.
JAXA launched Hayabusa2 in December 2014 to collect samples from Ryugu. After arriving at the asteroid in June 2018, Hayabusa2 deployed two rovers and a small lander on the surface. Then, on Feb. 22, 2019, Hayabusa2 fired an impactor into the asteroid to create an artificial crater. This allowed the spacecraft to retrieve a sample beneath Ryugu’s surface.
On Dec. 6, 2020, Hayabusa2 delivered the asteroid sample to Earth. The spacecraft swooped by Earth to drop a landing capsule containing the asteroid sample. The capsule made a fiery entry through our planet’s atmosphere and parachuted to a soft landing inside the Woomera Range Complex in the South Australian outback. The spacecraft is now on an extended mission to a smaller asteroid, called 1998 KY26.
Both missions explored carbonaceous asteroids, which are thought to be the rocky building blocks of the early solar system. These asteroids could help scientists better understand how the solar system formed, and how life later emerged.
On Nov. 30, 2021, NASA received 23 millimeter-sized grains and 4 containers of even finer material from Ryugu – 10% of the total collected by Hayabusa2. A JAXA official and a JAXA scientist delivered the asteroid fragments to the Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science (ARES) Division at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.
"This is an exciting opportunity to amplify science return through international cooperation,” said Lori Glaze, Planetary Science Division director at NASA Headquarters. “The collaboration will help both countries get the most out of their returns and share the responsibility of sample curation independently cross-check results."
Hayabusa2 is a follow-up to Japan’s original Hayabusa mission, which was the first spacecraft to take samples from an asteroid, and was also the first mission to successfully land and take off from an asteroid. It returned samples from the asteroid 25143 Itokawa to Earth on June 13, 2010.