Thursday, 21 March, 2019

Japanese spacecraft attempts landing on distant asteroid

Japan Just Shot a Fake Asteroid with a Space Bullet … for Science An Earth copy of the sampling instrument that was loaded onto the Hayabusa2 spacecraft. Credit
Cary Marshall | 22 February, 2019, 07:26

Hayabusa-2 completed its landing late on Thursday night on to the surface of the asteroid and has since fired a bullet at the rock's surface.

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.

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has been preparing for Hayabusa2 to make contact with the asteroid for months.

Photos of Ryugu - which means "Dragon Palace" in Japanese and refers to a castle at the bottom of the ocean in an ancient Japanese tale - show an asteroid shaped a bit like a spinning top with a rough surface.

The rovers have been taking images of the asteroid and performing other functions such as measuring its surface temperature.

More news: Sarri Methods May Force Chelsea Stars Out

The brief landing will be challenging, because of the uneven and boulder-covered surface.

The scientists are aiming to land the probe on a far smaller landing area than originally planned that is now just 6 meters in diameter.

Hayabusa2 launched in 2014 and spent four years travelling to its target.

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.

During this time it will conduct a number of exploratory activities in an attempt to try to find clues about the solar system's evolution and the beginning of life itself.

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