In what may sound like a scene from a sci-fi film, a Japanese probe is about to land on an asteroid 340 million kilometers from Earth, take aim and fire.
Associate Professor Yuichi Tsuda of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) speaks about the touchdown by the Hayabusa2 which touched down on the distant asteroid Ryugu.
The touchdown was previously delayed after scientists found the asteroid's surface to be rougher than they had initially anticipated.
If the mission is a success, Hayabusa2 will bring three samples from Ryugu's surface to Earth in December 2020.
He said the probe seemed to have fired a bullet into the Ryugu asteroid, created to puff up surface material for analysis back on Earth.
The rovers have been taking images of the asteroid and performing other functions such as measuring its surface temperature.
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The brief landing will be challenging, because of the uneven and boulder-covered surface.
The agency has since located a flat area near Ryugu's equator that is free of rocks larger than 60 centimeters, it said.
The mission has not been completely plain sailing and the probe's landing was originally scheduled for past year.
The Japanese Hayabusa2 spacecraft has completed one of its most exciting challenges yet: On Thursday evening, it touched down on the asteroid Ryugu, fired a tantalum bullet into the rocky surface, and ascended back into orbit around the tiny world, according to updates from the mission's English-language Twitter account.
Scientists hope those samples may provide answers to some fundamental questions about life and the universe, including whether elements from space helped give rise to life on Earth.