Tiny particles of rock gathered from the Asteroid Ryugu are some of the most primordial bits of material ever examined on Earth and could give us a glimpse into the origins of the solar system. Asteroid 162173 Ryugu measures about 2,953 feet in diameter and orbits the sun between Earth and Mars, occasionally crossing Earth’s orbit.
The carbonaceous, or C-type, asteroid spins like a top as it hurtles through space, and like other C-type Asteroid Ryugu contains material from the nebula that gave birth to the sun and its planets billions of years ago. The Japanese spacecraft Hayabusa2 collected samples from the surface of Asteroid Ryugu.
While they handled the space rock, Yada and his colleagues kept the material in a vacuum chamber or in a sealed environment filled with purified nitrogen. The team assessed the samples using an optical microscope and various instruments that measure how the rocks absorb, emit and reflect different wavelengths of light in the visible and infrared spectra.