Probe finds asteroid's surface is 30-100 degrees C
NHK -- Jul 20
Japan's space agency says its Hayabusa2 probe is shedding more light on the features of the asteroid Ryugu. It says the celestial body's surface temperatures range from 30 to 100 degrees Celsius.

Scientists at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, disclosed the latest findings at a news conference on Thursday.

The explorer reached a point 20 kilometers from Ryugu on June 27th. The asteroid, which is roughly 900 meters in diameter, is about 300 million kilometers from the Earth.

The scientists say the latest observations show the asteroid's surface temperatures vary according to the amount of sunlight.

They say these temperature levels will not prevent the probe from exploring Ryugu's surface.

They also say that each area of Ryugu has 2 seasons, summer and winter, because the axis of its rotation is slightly tilted. The 2 seasons combined last for about 15 months.

The scientists expect that further observations of temperature changes will show whether the materials on the surface are sand or rock.

They plan to have Hayabusa2 descend to about 6,000 meters from the asteroid around Friday, and to 1,000 meters around August 7th to carry out more detailed studies. They hope to find a good location for a landing by the probe in September or October.

Hayabusa2 Mission Manager Makoto Yoshikawa says their research shows that Ryugu is scientifically very interesting.

Yoshikawa also says the probe has detected many rocks on the asteroid's surface. He says the researchers hope to find a flat place for the landing by making observations at a lower altitude.

News source: NHK
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