Variations of the surface characteristics of Ryugu returned samplesOPEN ACCESS 

Aiko Nakato, Toru Yada, Masahiro Nishimura, Kasumi Yogata, Akiko Miyazaki, Kana Nagashima, Kentaro Hatakeda, Kazuya Kumagai, Yuya Hitomi, Hiromichi Soejima, Jean-Pierre Bibring, Cedric Pilorget, Vincent Hamm, Rosario Brunetto, Lucie Riu, Lionel Lourit, Damien Loizeau, Tania Le Pivert-Jolivet, Guillaume Lequertier, Aurelie Moussi-Soffys, Masanao Abe, Tatsuaki Okada, Tomohiro Usui, Satoru Nakazawa, Takanao Saiki, Satoshi Tanaka, Fuyuto Terui, Makoto Yoshikawa, Sei-ichiro Watanabe & Yuichi Tsuda

Earth, Planets and Space, Volume 75, Article number: 45
Published: 28 March 2023


“Hayabusa2 spacecraft successfully collected rock samples from the surface of C-type near-Earth asteroid 162173 Ryugu through two touchdowns and brought them back to Earth in 2020. At the Extraterrestrial Sample Curation Center in JAXA, we performed initial description of all samples to obtain fundamental information and prepare the database for sample allocation. We propose morphological classifications for the returned samples based on the initial description of 205 grains described in the first 6 months. The returned samples can be distinguished by four morphological characteristics: dark, glossy, bright, and white. According to coordinated study to provide an initial description and detailed investigation by scanning electron microscopy and X-ray diffraction analysis in this study, these features reflect the differences in the degree of space weathering and mineral assemblages. The degree of space weathering of the four studied grain types is heterogeneous: weak for A0042 (dark group) and C0041 (white group); moderate for C0094 (glossy); and severe for A0017 (bright). The white phase, which is the mineral characteristic of the white group grains, is identified as large carbonate minerals. This is the first effort to classify Ryugu returned samples into distinct categories. Based on these results, researchers can estimate sample characteristics only from the information on the JAXA curation public database. It will be an important reference for sample selection for further investigation.”