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Let's Learn About Asteroids!

Our solar system has over a million asteroids. These are rocky lumps that orbit the sun. They’re too small to be planets, but are sometimes called ‘minor planets’.

The Asteroid Belt

Most asteroids are in a region – the asteroid belt – between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, but some are in other parts of the solar system.

Asteroids may seem a bit small and boring compared with colourful and active planets and moons. However, asteroids are rich in a lot of useful minerals (including silver, gold and platinum!) In future, we might send mining missions to them, especially those close to Earth’s orbit like Ryugu.

Image Credit: JAXA, University of Tokyo & collaborators

Ryugu

This asteroid, Ryugu, was visited by the Japanese Hayabashu 2 Mission in 2019. The probe then returned to Earth with samples taken from the asteroid.

The capsule containing the samples was dropped to Earth as the space probe flew past in December 2020. In the picture, you can see the sample capsule where it landed in the South Australian desert.

The Project Team is fascinated by the appearance of Ryugu and morale is rising at the prospect of this challenge. Together with all of you, we have become the first eyewitnesses to see asteroid Ryugu. I feel this amazing honour as we proceed with the mission operations.

YUICHI TSUDAHYABUSU2 PROJECT MANAGER - 25TH JUNE 2018
space iguda small

Iguda’s Asteroid Fact File

*FUN FACT* – Vesta is the second brightest asteroid in the solar system. Ryugu means ‘Dragon Palace’ in Japanese.

Asteroids factfile

Ryugu
Vesta

Position from the Sun

near Earth orbit
in the asteroid belt

Diameter

865 metres
530 kilometres

Distance from sun

178,500,000 km
354,000,000 km

Day length

7.6 hours
5.3 hours

Year length

474 days
3.63 years

Type of asteroid

C-type
V-type/minor planet

Surface temperature

-50 °C to 60 °C
-188 °C to -18 °C

Gravity

Approx. 0.00013 m/s²
0.25 m/s²

Atmosphere

none
none

YOUR MISSION, SHOULD YOU CHOOSE TO ACCEPT IT …

YOUR MISSION, SHOULD YOU CHOOSE TO ACCEPT IT …

YOUR MISSION, SHOULD YOU CHOOSE TO ACCEPT IT …

YOUR MISSION, SHOULD YOU CHOOSE TO ACCEPT IT …

Is that a Planet?!

Vesta is an amazing asteroid. If it had been further away from Jupiter, it might have grown into another planet!

Do some research to find out all about the amazing history, geography, geology and exploration of Vesta. When you search online for ‘vesta asteroid’, make sure you take information from several different sources, to help you check how accurate each fact is.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

Your Task

Make a poster to communicate all your findings about Vesta. Include at least one image of the asteroid, which could be a sketch that you draw, or you might print pictures from the Internet. Then add blocks of text that explain the different things you found out about Vesta.

– MISSION END –

– MISSION END –

– MISSION END –

– MISSION END –

Your Journey So Far …

Tanno and Iguda have explored these places up to now. You can go back and visit again by clicking below.

The Moon

Venus

Mercury

The Sun

Mars

Asteroids

Great to see you again, thank you for the visit! See you next time …

Tanno & Iguda