What just happened? On Thursday, the Hayabusa2 probe from Japan's Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) made a second successful touchdown on the surface of Ryugu, a 450 billion kg asteroid discovered in 1999 at MIT's Lincoln Lab in the USA state of New Mexico.
According to the space agency the landing was more than ideal and done autonomously.
The Ryugu asteroid is located between Earth and Mars, at a distance of 300 million kilometers from Earth.
After blasting a crater in Ryugu, it has returned to pick up fresh rubble.
JAXA officials said earlier that the probe appeared to have landed successfully, but confirmation came only after Hayabusa2 lifted back up from the asteroid and resumed communications with the control room. There is great anticipation that the material sampled from Ryugu will be key to learning more about the evolution of the solar system and the origin of life.
Thursday's touchdown was meant to collect pristine materials from beneath the surface of the asteroid that could provide insights into what the solar system was like at its birth, some 4.6 billion years ago.Читайте также: Oldest Homo sapiens outside Africa found in Greece
"First photo become taken at 10:06:32 JST (on-board time) and you could see the gravel flying upwards".
Hayabusa2 made a similar landing at another location on the asteroid in February and collected topsoil samples. Initial images transmitted from Hayabusa2 show sample pieces with different colours and sizes, a sign of diversity even on a tiny asteroid, he said.
'It would be safe to say that extremely attractive materials are near the crater, ' Tsuda said.
The Hayabusa2 mission was launched in December 2014, and has a price tag of around 30 billion yen (S$376 million). Hayabusa2 is expected to leave the asteroid to return to Earth at the end of next year, with the samples for scientific study. Last night, the probe Hayabusa-2 latched onto Ryugu, landing in the designated area successfully.
Hayabusa-2 started its mission to reach Ryugu in 2014, launching from Japan's space port Tanegashima.
Hayabusa2 is equipped with various types of technology to help it observe and sample Ryugu, including a camera, that has beamed back images of the desolate asteroid's surface, and sensing equipment to record an array of data.
A second touchdown and collection of subsurface samples was considered risky as any problems that happen now could result in the loss of precious surface samples which the probe had collected previously.При любом использовании материалов сайта и дочерних проектов, гиперссылка на обязательна.
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