Japanese probe Hayabusa2 successfully performs 2nd touchdown on Ryugu asteroid

Japanese Probe Hayabusa2 Successfully Performs 2nd Touchdown on Ryugu Asteroid

To get at these essential materials, in April an "impactor" was sacked from Hayabusa2 in the direction of Ryugu in a risky process that created a crater on the asteroid's surface and whips up materials that had not beforehand been exposed to the atmosphere.

"The touchdown is successful", spokesman Takayuki Tomobe from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) told AFP. Pristine material exposed by the artificial crater blast, which was obtained by Hayabusa-2 during its second collection attempt, will be sent back to Earth after the Hayabusa-2 mission ends, The Verge noted.

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.

After the probe started its descent on Wednesday and collected the samples, "the probe's mission is nearly complete, and it will start its journey back to Earth at the end of this year", Kyodo said. The photograph captured four seconds after touchdown shows debris from the asteroid's surface being flung into space.

The asteroid, named Ryugu after an undersea dragon palace in a Japanese folk tale, is about 300 million kilometres (180 million miles) from Earth.

For experts, they may contain chemical compounds that could have been important for kick-starting life on Earth, as well as water, organic (carbon-rich) compounds and precious metals. "Hayabusa2 is functioning normally, and thus the second touchdown ended with success".

When the two objects finally met, the Hayabusa2 deployed two miniature rovers to the asteroid's surface, which have been conducting research on the origins of the solar system across the asteroids surface ever since.

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The space agency said that if the mission is successful, it would be the first time that a space probe has taken samples from below the surface of an asteroid. By analyzing them, the scientists would learn more about what forms asteroids and find out more information about the early days of our solar system.

It is the second landing for the unmanned Hayabusa-2, which touched down on the asteroid in February. A photo taken by the probe's camera shows that parts of Ryugu's surface in and around the crater are covered with "obviously different" materials from the rest of the surface.

The spacecraft still has to release another lander on the asteroid before returning to Earth.

It was hailed as a scientific triumph regardless of various setbacks throughout 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.

Hayabusa 1 was damaged when it landed on another asteroid, the Itokawa, in 2005.

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