A Side of Science: Asteroid Ryugu

In my latest video, I shared information about a pair of rovers bouncing over the surface of an asteroid named Ryugu. The two rovers hitched a ride aboard JAXA’s Hayabusa-2 satellite and are helping us understand more about the surface of this asteroid.

Credit: JAXA

One challenge of having rovers traveling across Ryugu is the asteroid’s small size and mass. I thought it would be fun to look at a few fast facts about Ryugu.

  • Ryugu is about 1 km in diameter (or 0.6 miles).
  • To walk all the way around it, you would do less than a 5k race! It’s about 3.1 km (or 1.8 miles).
  • The mass of Ryugu is about the same as about 75 Great Pyramids
  • The escape velocity of Ryugu is about 0.3 meters per second…or 0.7 miles per hour. So you could jump and achieve escape velocity from Ryugu!
  • Ryugu is not part of the main asteroid belt in our Solar System. Instead, it orbits the Sun every 16 months between Earth and Mars (dipping just inside Earth’s orbit briefly on each orbit).
Credit: Tomruen from Wikimedia Commons

The Hayabusa-2 spacecraft will be taking a sample of Ryugu and returning it to Earth, which will allow us to know even more about the surface of this asteroid. Stay tuned to JAXA to watch the progress of this amazing mission!

Questions about the science? Leave them in the comments!

And, in case you missed my Asteroid Explorers video, be sure to check it out!

Additional resources and reading:

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