On December 5 2020, after a six-year journey and over five billion kilometers, Hayabusa 2, the Japanese Space Agency (JAXA) probe, returned to earth. It was launched on December 2014 with the aim of reaching and taking samples from the asteroid 162173 Ryugu.
The asteroid discovered in 1999, due to its size and proximity to the Earth is potentially dangerous, but meanwhile it is equally valuable as it is thought to host organic material dating back to the birth of the solar system about 4.6 billion years ago.
Thanks to a pair of small rovers successfully released from Hayabusa 2, in 2018 for the first time in history it was possible to transmit images from the surface of an asteroid.
Once it reached the ground, the goal was to bombard the surface of the asteroid with a small tantalum projectile at a speed of about 300 m / s, opening a crater about 10 meters wide to collect materials not exposed to space erosion and not contaminated by cosmic rays and solar wind.
After about a year and a half of observations, the spacecraft began the maneuvers to approach the Earth, taking the samples collected on the surface of Ryugu with it in a capsule.
On December 5 this capsule entered the Earth’s atmosphere to land in the Australian desert in the Forbidden Area of Woomera, a kind of “Area 51” in southern Australia, and was returned to Japan for laboratory analysis; the Hayabusa 2 probe instead continued its mission by heading into deep space to reach the 1998 KY26 asteroid, one of the smallest objects in the solar system, in which a considerable amount of water appears to be contained.
However, we will have to wait until 2031 for the Hayabusa 2 probe to begin its exploration of the new asteroid.
TAMAGAWA SEIKI ENGINE ON HAYABUSA2
The excellence and reliability of Tamagawa, a leading manufacturer and supplier of components for the automation and aerospace industry, are confirmed once again by the fact that Hayabusa 2 features a Tamagawa step motor and mechanical components.
The mechanical parts are mounted on the solar panels that power the probe; the step motor is installed instead on the shutter mechanism of the TIR (Thermal InfraRed Imager), the infrared sensor aimed at studying the temperature and thermal inertia of the asteroid soil.
Together with two positioning sensors, the Tamagawa step motor allows you to operate the mechanical shutter by opening it to take images and closing it to protect from direct sunlight and any unexpected events.
The excellent success of the space mission demonstrates how Tamagawa products are capable of operating even in extreme environmental conditions, so much so that many components of the Japanese manufacturer are often installed on many satellites and space stations.
While waiting for a Tamagawa engine to reach the next asteroid, the Garnet team is available on planet Earth to investigate every application need and provide reliable and quality solutions.