Credit: JAXA

“A chime has sounded and the operation has ended,” reports Japan’s Hayabusa2 controllers. “From today until Nov 18, when we exit the region of Ryugu’s gravitational influence, Hayabusa2 will take “Farewell Observation” images.”

Departure image of asteroid.
Credit: JAXA, Chiba Institute of Technology, University of Tokyo, Kochi University, Rikkyo University, Nagoya University, Meiji University, University of Aizu, AIST

With a propulsive nudge, Japan’s impressive asteroid explorer is headed homeward, transporting to Earth specimens from the space rock.

Hayabusa2 details.
Credit: JAXA

En route to Earth

After its launch in early December 2014, Hayabusa2 arrived at asteroid Ryugu in June 2018…and is now en route to Earth, scheduled to land in Australian outback in late 2020.

The year-long return trip ends with retrieval operations planned to occur in the South Australian desert area of Woomera.

Credit: JAXA

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA) Hayabusa2 carried out a succession of duties, from dropping target markers, deploying robot landers and performing sample grabs of the asteroid.

Hayabusa2 team salutes departure of asteroid probe.
Credit: JAXA