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Probing the Secrets of the Early Solar System: The Japanese Hayabusa2 Sample Return Mission to Carbonaceous Asteroid Ryugu

Friday November 15, 2019
3:30 pm

 Presenter:  Dr. Adrian Brearley, Earth and Planetary Sciences, UNM
 Series:  Physics and Astronomy Colloquium
 Abstract:  The Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) launched an ambitious sample return mission, Hayabusa2, to the carbonaceous asteroid, Ryugu, in December 2014. After two successful sample collection touchdowns in February and July 2019, the spacecraft will start its return journey in December 2019 and will deliver its pristine asteroidal samples to Earth in December 2020. Analyses of these unique samples will begin in early 2021 with a preliminary analysis phase that will last 6 months. Based on reflectance spectroscopy, carbonaceous asteroids, such as Ryugu, are the likely source of carbonaceous chondrites, the most chemical pristine early solar system materials available for study. Carbonaceous chondrites contain a wide range of organic materials that may have been the building blocks of life on Earth. Many of them are also water-rich and may have been one of the sources of water that was delivered to the early Earth. If successful, the Hayabusa2 mission will be the first sample return mission to collect carbonaceous chondrite materials from an asteroidal surface to compare directly with data obtained from meteorite samples. These unique, complex fine-grained samples have the potential to provide significant new insights into important scientific questions about the early evolution of our solar system. In my presentation, I will overview the Hayabusa2 mission, talk about the role that UNM will play in the preliminary analysis phase of the returned samples, and the science questions that will be addressed by coordinated investigations of these exciting new extraterrestrial samples.
 Host:  Richard Rand
 Location:  1100, PAIS

Refreshments will be available before the colloquium, at 03:15 pm, in .

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