CSIP: PRELIMS BOOSTER SERIES -491 Science and Technology


Asteroid Ryugu


Scientists analysing samples from the asteroid Ryugu, brought back to Earth by Japan’s Hayabusa2 mission, have detected two organic compounds essential for living organisms.

Asteroid Ryugu

  • Discovered in 1999 by the Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) project.
  • Named after Ryūjin, a deity from Japanese mythology who lives in an underwater palace called Ryūgū-jō.

Physical Characteristics:

  • Approximately 900 meters (3,000 feet) in diameter.
  • Diamond-shaped with an equatorial ridge called Ryujin Dorsum.
  • Classified as a C-type asteroid, meaning it is rich in carbon and organic compounds.
  • Considered a “potentially hazardous” asteroid due to its orbit, but currently poses no imminent threat to Earth.

Exploration by Hayabusa2:

  • In 2014, the Japanese Hayabusa2 spacecraft was launched on a mission to study Ryugu.
  • Hayabusa2 arrived at Ryugu in June 2018 and spent over a year collecting data and samples.
  • The spacecraft made two touchdowns on the asteroid’s surface, collecting precious material.
  • In November 2019, Hayabusa2 departed Ryugu and returned to Earth, delivering the samples in December 2020.

Scientific Significance:

  • The samples collected by Hayabusa2 are providing valuable insights into the early history of our solar system.
  • Scientists are studying the samples to learn more about the composition of asteroids, the presence of organic molecules, and the potential for life elsewhere in the universe.

 Ryugu is likely to remain a target for future exploration missions as scientists continue to unravel its secrets. The knowledge gained from studying Ryugu could help us better understand the risks posed by other near-Earth asteroids and develop strategies for planetary defense.