Wednesday, 16 October, 2019


Japan’s Hayabusa2 probe makes successful second touchdown on asteroid

Japan’s Hayabusa2 probe makes successful second touchdown on asteroid Japan’s Hayabusa2 probe makes successful second touchdown on asteroid
Kristine Garrett | 11 July, 2019, 14:16

The mission is believed to have collected first-ever asteroid subsurface samples, the report said.

As it takes 14 minutes to transmit information between Earth and the probe, raising the possibility the control room could be too late to intervene if a problem arises, Hayabusa2 operated autonomously once it reached 30 meters above the surface.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, said data show Hayabusa2 touched down and rose safely after collecting the samples.

Yuichi Tsuda, Hayabusa2 project manager, spoke to reporters, telling them: "This is the second touchdown, but doing a touchdown is a challenge whether it's the first or the second".

The brief landing Thursday is the second time Hayabusa2 has touched down on the desolate asteroid Ryugu, some 300 million kilometres (185 million miles) from Earth.

JAXA officials said they had also observed signals indicating the probe had risen from the surface as planned.

Confirmation of the landing came only after Hayabusa2 lifted back up from the asteroid and resumed communications with the control room.

Japan's space agency has announced its space probe Hayabusa2 has successfully landed on the asteroid Ryugu.

"The landing was a huge success as (Hayabusa2) made a ideal move nearly in line with our expectations", said Takashi Kubota, a professor at JAXA's Institute of Space and Astronautical Science in Sagamihara, near Tokyo.

Hayabusa2 fired an "impactor" at Ryugu's surface in April in preparation for this touchdown, creating a crater in order to expose layers of the rock that were previously hidden.

Researchers believe these samples could give them vital clues into what the solar system was like when it was born billions of years ago.

Hayabusa2's first touchdown was in February, when it landed briefly on Ryugu and fired a bullet into the surface to puff up dust for collection, before blasting back to its holding position.

With the collection of the samples, the probe's mission is nearly complete, and it will start its journey back to Earth at the end of this year.

Ryugu, which means "Dragon Palace" in Japanese, refers to a castle at the bottom of the ocean in an ancient Japanese tale.

This is one of the most important missions of the spacecraft, which is scheduled to return to Earth next year with the samples gathered from the Ryugu asteroid, which is around 900 metres in diameter with slightly cubical shape and is considered among the oldest bodies in the solar system, reports Efe news.

The Hayabusa2 mission has attracted global attention, with Queen guitarist and astrophysicist Brian May sending a video to the probes team ahead of the landing. "We love you, take care Hayabusa2", the iconic musician told the team.

It was hailed as a scientific triumph despite various setbacks during its epic seven-year odyssey.

Hayabusa2 has travelled around 4 billion km around the Sun in an elliptical orbit since its launch in December 2014.

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