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Japan's Probe Spacecraft Is Preparing to Touch Down on an Asteroid

Japan's Probe Spacecraft Is Preparing to Touch Down on an Asteroid

The mission was organised by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), which streamed its mission live.

Hayabusa2's descent was delayed for about five hours for a safety check, but the unmanned craft is still due to touch down as scheduled on Friday morning, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency said.

If successful, the probe will be able to collect samples that will eventually be brought back to Earth.

"I expect this will lead to a leap, or new discoveries, in planetary science", he said.

After the landing, the probe was to return to its holding position above Ryugu, with further touchdowns planned for later in the year.

More news: Peter Tork, Beloved Member of the Monkees, Dies at 77

In September, the space agency successfully landed two small rovers from Hayabusa2 onto Ryugu, publishing a series of photos taken on the asteroid's surface. Researchers also hope to find clues into how life started on Earth, according to the report. It could take several days to confirm whether Hayabusa2 was able to fire the bullet during its touchdown.

The landing of spacecraft Hayabusa2 on the asteroid Ryugu - which is just 900 metres in diameter - came after an initial attempt in October was delayed because it was hard to pick a landing spot on the asteroid's rocky surface.

The 600-kg Hayabusa2, which was launched from the Tanegashima Space Center in southwestern Japan in December 2014, has experienced no problems up until now, throughout its journey totaling 3.2 billion km.

At about the size of a large fridge, Hayabusa2 is equipped with solar panels and is the successor to JAXA's first asteroid explorer, Hayabusa - Japanese for falcon.


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