For the first time ever, an asteroid sample is about to land on Earth! After travelling all the way from outer space, the asteroid Itokawa will be entering the Earth’s atmosphere sometime in December 2020.
This is an exciting time for scientists and astronomers all around the world as this is the first time we are able to get a sample of an asteroid like this one. The asteroid sample is expected to travel at speeds of up to 12 miles per second as it enters the atmosphere. Scientists and astronomers are excited to get a look at the material composition of the asteroid and learn more about what is out there in our galaxy.
The asteroid has been on a four year journey to get to Earth and has been monitored by the Hayabusa2 spacecraft. Itokawa is a 500-meter wide asteroid that orbits the sun once every 1.1 years. This is an incredible feat for the Hayabusa2 spacecraft, which was launched in 2014.
Once the asteroid sample enters the Earth’s atmosphere it will be travelling at over 27,000 miles per hour. This speed along with the material composition of the asteroid sample is expected to make the sample visibly glow in the night sky as it enters the Earth’s atmosphere. Once the asteroid sample lands on Earth itwill be collected and analyzed back in the laboratory to see what the asteroid was made of.
This is an amazing opportunity for scientists and astronomers all around the globe, as the sample could provide valuable insight into the history of our universe. There are loads of questions surrounding asteroids like Itokawa and now we will be able to get some answers. We are very excited to see what the sample will tell us about the universe!