Contribution to“Hayabusa2” asteroid sample-return mission

January 12, 2021

On December 6, 2020, the re-entry capsule of the asteroid explorer "Hayabusa2" returned to the Earth. Subsequent analysis revealed that the gas collected from the sealed sample container inside the re-entry capsule originated from the asteroid Ryugu. It was also confirmed that the sandy materials in the sample catcher inside the sample container was from Ryugu. The samples brought back to the Earth are considered to contain organic matter and water, and analysis of them is expected to help elucidate the origin of life.

Sumitomo Heavy Industries,Ltd. developed sampling system, including the sample container and sample catcher, under NEC Corporation. Based on the experience of former “Hayabusa”, which collected surface materials from the asteroid Itokawa, various improvements were made for Hayabusa2 to ensure collection of more samples and to collect volatile materials. Our company also manufactured the barrel of the projector system (a device to launch projectiles to crush the surface of asteroid). For Hayabusa2, our company collaborated with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to develop an improved barrel of the projector to increase the sample yield. The Industrial Equipment Division, which has a proven track record of delivering many space devices, developed the sample collection equipment, and the Defense Systems Group’s technology was used for the projector. By combining these technologies,Our company was able to contribute to collecting extraterrestrial materials that have extremely high scientific value.

Our company will continue to provide products that are useful for space development, and contribute to the development of science by continuing to challenge the limits.

Sample Catcher containing samples taken from the asteroid Ryugu <Photograph from JAXA>
Flight spare for the Projector (Spare parts made at the same time as the flight model) <from JAXA>