Lo Chun-yang (Lecturer, General Education Foundation Course, Chinese University of Hong Kong) Photo: Radio Television Hong Kong A lone traveler walked in the dark ocean, hurried to the Dragon Palace in the dark, and took a mysterious box from there and brought it back to the ground - please don't get me wrong, this does not describe the adventure of Urashima Taro. It describes a space exploration operation that took place in reality and started six years ago. "Ryugu", whose full name is (162173) 1999 JU3, is an asteroid that was discovered by humans in 1999.
It belongs to the Apollo-type asteroid group and is a potentially hazardous object orbiting the sun and orbiting very close to the Earth. In addition, it is also a C-type asteroid. The characteristics of C-type asteroids are that the surface is dark and difficult to observe, which is naturally more worrying. But while near-Earth asteroids are a threat, they are also a treasure trove of scientific research. It can give us a better understanding of how planets form, and even help us understand how life arose. Among them, C-type asteroids have a great relationship with the research on the origin of life. C-type asteroids are not only composed of large amounts of carbon compounds, but they also carry cold particles or water molecules from time to time. These compounds are essential for the development of life.
If we can conduct field investigations on C-type asteroids, and even collect samples from them for analysis, it may give us a more comprehensive understanding of the formation of the solar system and the emergence of life. This is the main reason why Hayabusa2 set sail for Ryugu. Hayabusa2 is a space probe developed by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). The space agency sent Hayabusa (the predecessor of Hayabusa 2) to asteroid 25143 for survey in 2003, and arrived at its destination in 2005. Hayabusa successfully completed the first human landing on an asteroid, collecting material, and bringing the material back to Earth.