A Japanese spacecraft landed on an asteroid, where it will collect space rock that may hold clues to how the universe evolved.
"We've collected a part of the solar system's history", Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) project manager Yuichi Tsuda said at a jubilant news conference in Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture, hours after the successful landing was confirmed. JAXA authorities said before that the test seemed to have landed effectively, however affirmation came simply after Hayabusa2 lifted back up from the space rock and continued interchanges with the control room.
JAXA hopes that an analysis of the samples could shed light at the conditions and chemistry within the early days of our Solar System, a few 4.Five billion years ago.
In April, Hayabusa shot the asteroid with a copper plate projectile, in order to loosen the rocks and expose the material under the surface, making it easier to harvest valuable samples. "We love you, take care Hayabusa2", the musician told the team.More news: Diaz shoots 62 to lead John Deere Classic
At about the size of a large refrigerator, and equipped with solar panels to keep it powered, Hayabusa2 is the successor to Jaxa's first asteroid explorer, Hayabusa, which means "falcon" in Japanese.
Hayabusa 2 got its first samples back in February and the scientific team behind the project decided they would get more before sending the craft home.
Among the Hayabusa2 mission's innovations are its ability to create a crater on the surface of the asteroid, and its transport of the MASCOT robot.
The asteriod mission first reached Ryugu - a kilometre-wide asteriod, with a relatively dark surface and nearly zero gravity - in June 2018 and made its first touchdown on the surface in February 2019.
The second touchdown required special preparations because any problems could mean the probe would lose the precious materials already gathered during its first landing.More news: U.S. producer prices up slightly, point to moderate inflation
After it touched down, Hayabusa-2 collected a new set of samples and left Ryugu's surface.
For its latest mission, Hayabusa2 hovered outside the crater, without landing.
At a cost of ¥30 billion (~$277 million) the Hayabusa2 space probe is expected to return with Ryugu's samples in December next year.
The probe launched in December 2014 and arrived at the dice-shaped space rock on June 27, 2018.
After the probe started its descent on Wednesday and collected the samples, "the probe's mission is nearly complete, and it will start its journey back to Earth at the end of this year", Kyodo said.More news: Super 30’s Anand Kumar suffering from brain tumour