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Japanese Asteroid Probe Assessments Ion Engine for Journey Dwelling to Earth

A Japanese asteroid probe is getting fired up for its return to Earth.

A latest take a look at of the ion engine that powers Japan’s Hayabusa2 spacecraft went properly, clearing the {hardware} for full-on operations quickly, mission staff members introduced late final week.

“This trial run has not had any issues, and the preparations for the ion engine operation through the cruise part of the return journey are full,” the official Twitter account of the Hayabusa2 mission acknowledged on Nov. 28.

Ion-engine operation for the return cruise to Earth will begin on Tuesday (Dec. 3), a key date for the Hayabusa2 mission.

“We’re lastly starting full-scale return operations,” Hayabusa2 staff members stated in one other Nov. 28 tweet. “By the way, December Three can also be the fifth anniversary of the launch of Hayabusa2!”

Hayabusa2 left the near-Earth asteroid Ryugu on Nov. 13, 2019, using chemical propulsion thrusters for the spacecraft’s orbit management.

The probe had been learning Ryugu up shut since June 2018. Throughout its time on the asteroid, Hayabusa2 dropped a number of smaller probes onto Ryugu’s rubbly floor and picked up a number of samples, which can be returned to Earth in December 2020.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Company (JAXA) is at the moment working with the Australian authorities to assist the restoration of the Hayabusa2 reentry capsule in late 2020 on the Woomera Prohibited Space, positioned within the outback desert of South Australia.

The Hayabusa2 spacecraft itself will cruise previous Earth and probably discover one other asteroid goal, if JAXA approves an prolonged mission.

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