Science, Vol.368, No.6491, 654-+, 2020
Sample collection from asteroid (162173) Ryugu by Hayabusa2: Implications for surface evolution
The near-Earth asteroid (162173) Ryugu is thought to be a primitive carbonaceous object that contains hydrated minerals and organic molecules. We report sample collection from Ryugu's surface by the Hayabusa2 spacecraft on 21 February 2019. Touchdown images and global observations of surface colors are used to investigate the stratigraphy of the surface around the sample location and across Ryugu. Latitudinal color variations suggest the reddening of exposed surface material by solar heating and/or space weathering. Immediately after touchdown, Hayabusa2's thrusters disturbed dark, fine grains that originate from the redder materials. The stratigraphic relationship between identified craters and the redder material indicates that surface reddening occurred over a short period of time. We suggest that Ryugu previously experienced an orbital excursion near the Sun.