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Primodial Particle From Asteroid Ryugu

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Tiny particles of rock gathered from the asteroid Ryugu are some of the most primordial bits of material ever examined on Earth. This could also provide us a glimpse into the origins of the solar system.

Ryugu is a C-type asteroid, which make up 75% of known asteroids in the solar system. Upon studying the samples returned from Ryugu, scientists confirmed the material is carbon-rich and reflects just 2% of the light shined on it. this makes it the darkest naturally occurring materials known to exist. The material returned from Ryugu is also more porous than any meteorite studied to date.

The Japanese probe Hayabusa2 returned to Earth from the asteroid Ryugu a year ago with material believed to have originated during the early days of the solar system, and the first analysis of its valuable payload is now complete. The Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, launched the probe in December 2014, and it spent 16 months orbiting the asteroid after arriving in the middle of 2018.

In total, the asteroid samples include about 5.4 grams of material. The largest particles of rock measure about 0.31 inches. The material was kept in a vacuum chamber or in a sealed environment filled with purified nitrogen. Thus, the Ryugu samples have been handled without exposing to the Earth’s atmosphere.

The team used a technique known as hyperspectral microscopy to take a closer look at the composition of the asteroid samples. The hyperspectral microscope works by illuminating the samples with different wavelengths of light in the visible and infrared spectra and snapping high-resolution pictures as it does so. Each snapshot measures about 0.2 by 0.2 inches. Each individual pixel provides data on the microscopic scale. In this way, the team revealed fine details of the rocks’ color, structure and chemical composition.

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