A Tiny Piece of the Sun Has Fallen To Earth – And It’s Changing Our Understanding

Credit: Unsplash

After six years in orbit, the Hayabusa2 probe returned to Earth at the end of 2020 and fell into the Australian wilderness. JAXA scientists opened it up and discovered its priceless payload: a pinch of asteroid dust that Hayabusa2 had scooped up as it raced through the solar system.

The initial findings from the study of this exceptional sample are now being released by experts. This asteroid may be a fragment of the same material that formed our star four-and-a-half billion years back, according to the findings.

It’s remarkable to have such pure materials from space. Witnesses to a previously unknown area of the solar system have come forward. Those particles would have never made it to Earth if they hadn’t been shielded by a spacecraft’s shielding screen.

While on Ryugu, Hayabusa2 gathered dust from the surface as well as the upper atmosphere. Having spent a year and a half circling the asteroid, it landed on Earth carrying a five-gram sample of dust & rock. One that might change our knowledge of how planets develop and also how our planetary system evolved has been anxiously awaited by scientists across the globe.

Because of their chemical makeup, which is remarkably similar to that of the sun, scientists believe that these rocks may be traced all the way back to the start of the solar system, some 4 and a half billion years in the past, way before the sun, the moon, and Earth were formed.

The shards, according to researchers, exhibit symptoms of having been wet at some time. For those who don’t know, an image of an asteroid drifting in space is necessary to understand what happened to the ice + dust that made up the asteroid while nuclear activity from radioactive components decayed. Around 5 million years since the solar system was established, Ryugu was influenced by water flow.

William Reid
A science writer through and through, William Reid’s first starting working on offline local newspapers. An obsessive fascination with all things science/health blossomed from a hobby into a career. Before hopping over to Optic Flux, William worked as a freelancer for many online tech publications including ScienceWorld, JoyStiq and Digg. William serves as our lead science and health reporter.