Sunday, July 22, 2018

Hayabusa 2 Finds Large Rocks Scattered on Asteroid Ryugu

The green spots are where rocks are scattered on the surface of asteroid Ryugu in an image captured by the Hayabusa 2 space probe. (Provided by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and other entities)

The Hayabusa 2 space probe discovered many boulders scattered on the asteroid Ryugu, suggesting it was formed from fragments of other celestial bodies, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) said July 19.

More than 100 rocks larger than 8 meters in length were confirmed on the surface of the “spinning top” asteroid from images captured by Hayabusa 2, according to JAXA.

The largest boulder was about 130 meters in length near the south pole.

The rocks are likely too big to be meteor fragments from collisions with Ryugu, which has a diameter of about 900 meters.

“(The finding) is compelling evidence to prove that the Ryugu asteroid was formed by fragments of larger celestial bodies,” said Seiichiro Watanabe, head of the study team and professor of Nagoya University.

The asteroid’s slightly tilted axis of rotation gives Ryugu two seasons: summer and winter. Hayabusa 2 found the temperature ranged from about 20 to 100 degrees on Ryugu’s surface.

The probe is scheduled to approach an area about 1,400 meters from Ryugu to study its gravity and other features on Aug. 6 and 7.

Credit: asahi.com

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