Hayabusa2 mission on Ryugu: how to watch live asteroid sample return to Earth


A capsule containing pristine asteroid samples will open a trail to Earth on Saturday morning, US time.


The Japanese space agency JAXA is preparation for the return of samples collected by asteroid Ryugu by the intrepid Hayabusa2 probe expertly designed. The spacecraft’s sample collection capsule will land near Woomera in the Australian outback early Sunday morning local time. If you want to find out how to watch the sample return mission live, we’ve got you covered here.

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

Until JAXA scientists and engineers return to Japan, we won’t know for sure what was captured, but it seems incredibly likely that we’ll be able to leverage inside an asteroid for the first time. The material trapped inside could tell us about the early solar system and explain how water was transported to the planet in its formative years.

JAXA will provide a live stream from Mission Control. However, it is currently unclear whether there will be a vision from the location of the fireball as the spacecraft returns to Earth.

“Given the nature of our operations with the minimum number of team members in Woomera, we cannot promise anything, but if any, it will be integrated into the live stream from Sagamihara, Japan,” said Masaki Fujimoto, deputy director of the space and astronautical sciences at JAXA.

That live stream is available for viewing below. There are currently more than 80 JAXA scientists and engineers stationed in Woomera and the nearby outback town Coober Pedy ready for action as Hayabusa2 transports its asteroid sample to Earth.

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