Hayabusa2 will fire up its ion engine in earnest on Dec. 3. A Japanese asteroid probe is getting fired up for its return to Earth.
A recent test of the ion engine that powers Japan’s Hayabusa2 spacecraft went well, clearing the hardware for full-on operations soon, mission team members announced late last week.
Hayabusa2 left the near-Earth asteroid Ryugu on Nov. 13, 2019, utilizing chemical propulsion thrusters for the spacecraft’s orbit control.
The probe had been studying Ryugu up close since June 2018. During its time at the asteroid, Hayabusa2 dropped several smaller probes onto Ryugu’s rubbly surface and collected multiple samples, which will be returned to Earth in December 2020.
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is currently working with the Australian government to support the recovery of the Hayabusa2 reentry capsule in late 2020 at the Woomera Prohibited Area, located in the outback desert of South Australia.
The Hayabusa2 spacecraft itself will cruise past Earth and potentially explore another asteroid target, if JAXA approves an extended mission.
Hayabusa2 is an asteroid sample-return mission operated by the Japanese space agency, JAXA. It follows on from the Hayabusa mission which returned asteroid samples in 2010. Hayabusa2 was launched on 3 December 2014 and rendezvoused with near-Earth asteroid 162173 Ryugu on 27 June 2018.
Planet 9 may not be a planet at all, but rather a ‘primordial black hole,’ shocking study suggests
The possible existence of Planet Nine and its impact on distant objects in the solar system has fascinated researchers for some time. But a new study suggests that the theoretical object may not be a giant planet hiding behind Neptune — but rather a primordial black hole.
A repository for studies that have not yet been peer-reviewed, suggests that whatever celestial object that’s heavily altering the paths of ice chunks in the farthest part of the solar system doesn’t necessarily have to be a planet, even if it may be the most likely option.
“We highlight that the anomalous orbits of Trans-Neptunian Objects (TNOs) and an excess in microlensing events in the 5-year OGLE dataset can be simultaneously explained by a new population of astrophysical bodies with mass several times that of Earth,” researchers Jakub Scholtz and James Unwin wrote in the study’s abstract. “We take these objects to be primordial black holes (PBHs) and point out the orbits of TNOs would be altered if one of these PBHs was captured by the Solar System, inline with the Planet 9 hypothesis.”
“We take these objects to be primordial black holes (PBHs) and point out the orbits of TNOs would be altered if one of these PBHs was captured by the Solar System, inline with the Planet 9 hypothesis.”
Scholtz and Unwin continued: “Capture of a free floating planet is a leading explanation for the origin of Planet 9 and we show that the probability of capturing a PBH instead is comparable. The observational constraints on a PBH in the outer Solar System significantly differ from the case of a new ninth planet.”
Primordial black holes – As their name suggests, primordial black holes were born very early in the life of the universe, a mere fraction of a second after the Big Bang. It was a time long before stars or galaxies (and other types of black holes) could exist. But some theories predict that primordial black holes should have popped onto the scene anyway. That’s because in that fraction of a second after the universe itself began, space was not completely homogenous (the same at every point). Instead, some areas were denser and hotter than others, and these dense regions could have collapsed into black holes.
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