Jaxa: Ryugu Was Likely Born From Asteroid Pieces

JAXA: Ryugu was likely born from asteroid pieces

NHK has learned that scientists now believe the asteroid Ryugu was likely formed from a collection of asteroid fragments.

Japan's Hayabusa2 spacecraft began observing Ryugu after it reached 20 kilometers from the asteroid on June 27th.

Ryugu is located about 300 million kilometers from Earth and is around 900 meters in diameter. Scientists hope that water and organic materials are present in the asteroid. But how it came into being was not known.

A team of researchers at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency is examining images beamed back from the probe.

The group says Ryugu has small and large rocks on its surface, with some estimated to be 100 to 200 meters long.

The team says the terrain is similar to that of the asteroid Itokawa, where the probe's predecessor landed in 2005.

University of Tokyo Professor Seiji Sugita is part of the team. He says one major theory is that Ryugu was formed by gravity drawing together fragments that split off in a collision between a relatively big asteroid and another body.

Sugita says understanding how Ryugu formed will help scientists predict its interior structure. He adds it will also help them decide on which part of the asteroid they should land the probe in a mission to collect rock samples.