2014 Volume 48 Issue 6 Pages 571-587
Hayabusa2 is an asteroid exploration mission to return surface samples of a near-Earth C-type asteroid (162173) 1999 JU3. Because asteroids are the evolved remnants of planetesimals that were the building blocks of planets, detailed observation by a spacecraft and analysis of the returned samples will provide direct evidence regarding planet formation and the dynamic evolution of the solar system. Moreover, C-type asteroids are expected to preserve the most pristine materials in the solar system, a mixture of minerals, ice, and organic matter that interact with each other. Space missions are the only way to obtain such pristine materials with geologic context and without terrestrial contamination. Hayabusa2 will launch off in 2014, arrive at 1999 JU3 in mid-2018, and fully investigate and sample the asteroid at three different locations during its 18-month stay. The concept and design of the Hayabusa2 sampler are basically the same as that on-board Hayabusa, and impact sampling with a 5-g Ta bullet will be made at three locations of the asteroid. The sample container has three separate chambers inside to store samples obtained at different locations separately. The spacecraft will return to Earth with samples in December 2020. Returned samples will be investigated by state-of-the-art analytical techniques in 2020 to understand the evolutionary history of the solar system from 4.56 Gyr ago to the present by combining results from laboratory examinations of the returned samples with remote-sensing datasets and comparing all results of observations of meteorites, interplanetary dust particles, and future returned samples.