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Ryugu’s history has been… weird

12 Dec 2019, 14:00 UTC
Ryugu’s history has been… weird
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The Japanese Space Agency mission Hayabusa2 left its asteroid target, Ryugu, just a few weeks ago, after surveying the 1-kilometer-wide rock for the past year and a half. The spacecraft is heading back to Earth now, carrying several samples of the asteroid that will drop to Earth so scientists can study them in the lab.

But the science has already begun with this mission. A team of scientists looked at the craters on Ryugu, and were able to use them to deduce some of the history of the asteroid. And hey, we already knew Ryugu was weird — it’s shaped like two cones attached by their bases, and is basically a pile of rocks held together by their mutual (and very meager) gravity — but it turns out it’s even weirder than first thought.

Using imaging data from Hayabusa2, the scientists found a total of 77 distinct craters and a handful that weren’t clear. They believe their list is complete for craters bigger than 20 meters, and were able to ID a few smaller than that. There are 3 bigger than 200 meters wide, and 11 more than 100 meters wide. There are two ways to look at the data: ...

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