Japanese Spacecraft Hayabusa2 Touches Down On Asteroid Ryugu


Workers at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency control centre applauded Friday as a signal sent from space indicated the Hayabusa2 spacecraft had touched down.

Japan's Hayabusa2 spacecraft is expected to land on the Ryugu asteroid this week where it will shoot a bullet into the rock to get samples that will be brought to Earth for further analysis, Gizmodo reported on Wednesday.

In this photo provided by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), staff of the Hayabusa2 Project watch monitors for a safety check at the control room of the JAXA Institute of Space and Astronautical Science in Sagamihara, near Tokyo, Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019.

Hayabusa2 will eventually fire an "impactor" to blast out material from underneath Ryugu's surface, allowing the collection of "fresh" materials unexposed to millennia of wind and radiation. Researchers also hope to find clues into how life started on Earth, according to the report.

The Hayabusa-2 probe will try to grab some of the 1km-wide asteroid, Ryugu.

The mission has not been completely plain sailing and the probe's landing was originally scheduled for previous year.

The samples gathered on Ryugu could help answer questions about the origins of life and the solar system, including whether elements from space aided the rise of life on our planet.

On its second or third landing, the spacecraft will shoot a cylindrical metal projectile called a "small carry-on impactor" 265 millimeters in diameter into the asteroid's surface to make an artificial crater and attempt to collect samples.

The 10-kilogram (22-pound) 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.