Japan is ready to send an asteroid monster back to Earth: how to watch live


A capsule of pristine asteroid samples will blaze a path to Earth Saturday morning US time.


Japanese space agency JAXA is prepare to return samples collected from asteroid Ryugu through the intrepid, expertly designed Hayabusa2 probe. The spacecraft’s sample-collecting capsule will land near Woomera in the Australian outback early Sunday morning (Saturday in the US and Europe). If you want to learn how to watch the sample return mission live, we are here for you.

What is it all about? Well, Hayabusa2 was launched in 2014 and rendezvous with asteroid Ryugu in June 2018. After shooting at the asteroid with a bullet in 2019the spacecraft was able to grab samples of underground material from the space rock – possibly the first time a spacecraft has done so – and store it in the capsule that will return to Earth this weekend.

Until JAXA scientists and engineers get back to Japan, we don’t know exactly what was captured, but it seems incredibly likely that we can pry into an asteroid for the first time. The material trapped in it can tell us about the early solar system and explain how water was carried to the planet in its formative years.

JAXA will be providing a live stream of the event from Mission Control. Streaming starts at 9 a.m.PT on Saturday, December 5. The broadcast is expected to last approximately 70 minutes, but can extend to 90 minutes. That’s a few seconds after the fireball is expected to appear and whether there will be visibility from the ground when the spacecraft returns to Earth is currently uncertain.

“Given the nature of our activities with the minimum number of team members in Woomera, we can’t promise anything, but if it does, it will be included in the live stream from Sagamihara, Japan,” said Masaki Fujimoto, deputy director of the Institute of Space. and Astronautical Science at JAXA.

That livestream can be viewed below. More than 80 scientists and engineers from JAXA are currently stationed in Woomera and the nearby outback town of Coober Pedy, ready to spring into action as Hayabusa2 Ubers brings its asteroid monster to Earth.

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