Asteroid Ryugu surprises researchers | Tech News

Asteroid Ryugu surprises researchers

In December 2020, a small landing capsule brought rock particles from the asteroid Ryugu to Earth material from the beginnings of our solar system.

By:ANI
| Updated on: Sep 24 2022, 23:21 IST
NASA DART Mission in pics: Amazing Attack on Asteroid!
Asteroid Ryugu
1/6 NASA with its Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) Mission spacecraft is all set to collide with a non-hazardous asteroid called Dimorphos in order to test planetary defence on Monday, September 26. The learnings from this asteroid attack will be used to protect Earth from asteroids that are heading for a collision with our planet. According to NASA, this will be the world's first mission to deflect an asteroid in space. NASA’s DART, built and managed by the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland, will demonstrate and test asteroid deflection by kinetic impactor. (Bloomberg)
Asteroid Ryugu
2/6 Dimorphos, the asteroid moonlet of Didymos poses no threat to Earth. The DART spacecraft had recently got its first look at Didymos, the double-asteroid system that includes its target, Dimorphos. It is being said that in 2024, the European Space Agency (ESA) will send a space probe to Dimorphos as part of the space mission HERA. The aim of the mission is to visually investigate the aftermath of the DART probe impact. (NASA )
Asteroid Ryugu
3/6 When to watch: The live broadcast of the event will start on September 26 at 6 p.m., EDT. The spacecraft will impact its target asteroid at 7:14 p.m. EDT, while at 8:00 p.m. ET, the research organisation will host a post-impact press briefing. (AFP)
Asteroid Ryugu
4/6 Where to watch: The historic collision can be watched live online as NASA will be broadcasting the same. NASA will broadcast the live coverage of DART’s impact with the asteroid Dimorphos on NASA TV and its several social media handles like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. (AFP)
Asteroid Ryugu
5/6 About asteroids: According to NASA, More than 100 tons of dust and sand sized particles are bombarded towards Earth everyday. While, about once a year, an automobile-sized asteroid hits Earth's atmosphere, creates an impressive fireball, and burns up before reaching the surface. Every 2,000 years or so, a meteoroid the size of a football field hits Earth and causes significant damage to the area. Only once every few million years, an object large enough to threaten Earth's civilization comes along. Impact craters on Earth, the moon and other planetary bodies are evidence of these occurrences. (AP)
Asteroid Ryugu
6/6 Space rocks smaller than about 25 meters (about 82 feet) will most likely burn up as they enter the Earth's atmosphere and cause little or no damage. By comparison, asteroids that populate the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, and pose no threat to Earth, can be as big as 940 kilometers (about 583 miles) across. (MINT_PRINT)
Asteroid Ryugu
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The Japanese space probe Hayabusa 2 collected the samples. Geoscientists have now discovered areas with a massive accumulation of rare earth and unexpected structures (NASA)

In December 2020, a small landing capsule brought rock particles from the asteroid Ryugu to Earth material from the beginnings of our solar system. The Japanese space probe Hayabusa 2 collected the samples. Geoscientists have now discovered areas with a massive accumulation of rare earth and unexpected structures.

Frank Brenker and his team are world leaders in a method that makes it possible to analyse the chemical composition of material in a three-dimensional and entirely non-destructive way and without complicated sample preparation -- yet with a resolution of under 100 nanometres. Resolution expresses the smallest perceptible difference between two measured values. The method's long name is "Synchrotron Radiation induced X-Ray Fluorescence Computed Tomography," in short SR-XRF-CT.

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Japan had chosen Ryugu (English: Dragon's Palace) as the probe's destination because it is an asteroid which, due to its high carbon content, promised to deliver particularly extensive information about the origin of life in our solar system. The analyses conducted on 16 particles by the researchers together with the scientists in Frankfurt have now shown that Ryugu is composed of CI-type material. These are very similar to the Sun in terms of their chemical composition. So far, CI-material has only rarely been found on Earth -- material of which it was unclear how much it had been altered or contaminated when entering Earth's atmosphere or upon impact with our planet. Furthermore, the analysis confirms the assumption that Ryugu originated from a parent asteroid which formed in the outer solar nebula.

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Until now, scientists had assumed that there was hardly any transport of material within the asteroid due to the low temperatures during the formation of the CI material in the early days of the solar system and therefore scarcely any possibility for a massive accumulation of elements. By means of SR-XRF-CT, however, the researchers in Frankfurt found a fine vein of magnetite -- an iron oxide mineral -- and hydroxyapatite, a phosphate mineral, in one of the grains of the asteroid. Other groups of scientists established that the structure and other magnetite-hydroxyapatite regions in the Ryugu samples must have formed at a surprisingly low temperature of under 40 °C. This finding is fundamental for interpreting almost all the results that the analysis of the Ryugu samples has generated and will generate in future.

In areas of the samples containing hydroxyapatite, Frank Brenker's team additionally detected rare earth metals -- a group of chemical elements indispensable today for alloys and glassware for high-tech applications, among others. "The rare earths occur in the hydroxyapatite of the asteroid in concentrations 100 times higher than elsewhere in the solar system," says Brenker. What's more, he says, all the elements of the rare earth metals have accumulated in the phosphate mineral to the same degree -- which is also unusual. Brenker is convinced: "This equal distribution of rare earths is a further indication that Ryugu is a very pristine asteroid that represents the beginnings of our solar system."

It is by no means a matter of course that researchers from Goethe University Frankfurt were allowed to examine samples from the Hayabusa 2 mission: after all, Japan undertook this space mission alone and, according to information from 2010, raised EUR123 million for it. It therefore also wants to reap a large part of the scientific harvest. But ultimately Japan did not want to forego the expertise of the German SR-XRF-CT specialists.

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First Published Date: 24 Sep, 21:54 IST
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