Japan's Hayabusa2 lands on asteroid Ryugu to collect samples

Gwen Vasquez
February 22, 2019

Despite an initial five-hour delay, Hayabusa2 is expected to touch down around 8:30 a.m on February 22 on schedule, as it will descend at an accelerated pace toward Ryugu, according to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

Employees at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) rejoiced on Friday as the Hayabusa2 explorer signaled that it landed on a distant asteroid.

Asteroids are believed to have formed at the dawn of the solar system and scientists say Ryugu may contain organic matter that may have contributed to life on Earth.

"I expect this will lead to a leap, or new discoveries, in planetary science", he said. It could take several days to confirm whether Hayabusa2 was able to fire the bullet during its touchdown. Three such touchdowns are planned.

On Oct. 3, 2018, Hayabusa2 released a small-sized Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout, also known as MASCOT, jointly developed by the German and French space agencies, which touched down successfully on the asteroid.

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Originally, Hayabusa2 was scheduled to touch down last October.

Earlier in September a year ago, JAXA successfully landed two miniature rovers on the surface of Asteroid Ryugu.

Hayabusa2 was launched in December 2014, and is expected to stay on the asteroid for a period of 18 months before its scheduled return to Earth in 2020.

The spacecraft's landing on the asteroid Ryugu, just 900 meters (3,000 feet) 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.

Scientists are already receiving data from these probes deployed on the surface of the asteroid.

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