Science

Japan lands Hayabusa-2 spacecraft on Ryugu asteroid in successful mission

Japan lands Hayabusa-2 spacecraft on Ryugu asteroid in successful mission”

He said the probe seemed to have fired a bullet into the Ryugu asteroid, created to puff up surface material for analysis back on Earth.

Japanese Education Minister Masahiko Shibayama said the space agency had concluded from its data after the first touchdown that the steps to collect samples were performed successfully. Space agency controllers will direct its approach until it is 500 metres (1,600 feet) above the asteroid's surface, after which it will be on its own because it takes 20 minutes for commands from Earth to reach the craft.

A Japanese spacecraft is approaching the surface of an asteroid about 280 million kilometres (170 million miles) from Earth.

The 10kg observation robot MASCOT is loaded with sensors, and can take images at multiple wavelengths, investigate minerals with a microscope, gauge surface temperatures and measure magnetic fields.

The agency has since located a flat area near Ryugu's equator that is free of rocks larger than 60 centimeters, it said.

Hayabusa2, which arrived into the vicinity of the Ryugu asteroid in June after a more than three-year, 3.2-billion-km journey, touched down on the rocky asteroid where it will collect samples. Researchers also hope to find clues into how life started on Earth, according to the report.

Hayabusa2's mission will be completed when it returns to the Earth in 2020 with the samples of rocks it has collected from Ryugu, which is thought to contain water and other materials that could possibly support life.



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