“The Hayabusa Missions” with Prof. Seiji Sugita, University of Tokyo, Japan

The Hayabusa missions have been the first landing and sample return missions to asteroids. They are marveled worldwide amongst space scientists, engineers and enthusiasts for the novel technologies used at comparatively low cost. Hayabusa was launched in 2003 to the near-Earth asteroid Itokawa and returned asteroid dust to the Earth, when the sample container landed in Australia on June 13, 2010. This was the first sample of an asteroid (S-type) brought back to Earth. Hayabusa was followed by Hayabusa2 launched in 2014 to C-type near-earth asteroid Ryugu. Hayabusa2 took samples from two sites in February and July 2019 that are expected back on December 6, 2020. In addition to sampling, Hayabusa2 carries an ambitious payload including optical and thermal infrared cameras, a near-infrared spectrometer and a LIDAR. Moreover, Hayabusa2 created an impact crater on Ryugu with its small carry-on impactor (SCI) and landed four rovers, one, MASCOT, provided by the German Aerospace Center DLR and three Japanese Minerva rovers. With its payload, Hayabusa2 did a thorough exploration of a very primitive body, a likely remnant of the planetesimals that formed the Earth and the planets.

Dr. Seiji Sugita is a professor at the Department of Earth and Planetary Science at the University of Tokyo and the Science PI of the Hayabusa2 Optical Navigation Camera. His general interest is in the origin and evolution of planets and their surface environments including life. He specializes in impact experiments, high-speed optical spectroscopy and mass spectroscopy.

This Seminar was recorded on July 30, 2020