Japan’s Hayabusa2 probe touches down on asteroid

It will collect samples from beneath the surface of Ryugu as part of an effort to understand the origins of the solar system
Japan’s Hayabusa2 probe made a “perfect” touchdown on Thursday on a distant asteroid, collecting samples from beneath the surface in an unprecedented mission that could shed light on the origins of the solar system. Confirmation of the landing came only after Hayabusa2 lifted back up from the asteroid and resumed communications with the control room. Research director Takashi Kubota told reporters that the touchdown operation was “more than perfect.” And Mr. Tsuda, with a grin, said he rated it “1000 points out of 100.” 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. The second touchdown required special preparations because any problems could mean the probe would lose the precious materials already gathered during its first landing. A photo of the crater taken by Hayabusa2’s camera after the April blast showed that parts of the asteroid’s surface are covered with materials that are “obviously different” from the rest of the surface, mission manager Makoto Yoshikawa told reporters before the latest touchdown. The touchdown is the last major part of Hayabusa2’s mission, and when the probe returns to Earth next year to drop off its samples, scientists hope to learn more about the history of the solar system and even the origin of life on Earth. “The world is watching. We love you, take care Hayabusa2,” the musician told the team. Hayabusa2 is the successor to JAXA’s first asteroid explorer, Hayabusa — Japanese for falcon — that returned with dust samples from a smaller, potato-shaped asteroid in 2010. It was hailed as a scientific triumph despite various setbacks during its epic seven-year odyssey. The Hayabusa2 mission was launched in December 2014, and has a price tag of around $270 million.

Source : https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-life/japans-hayabusa2-probe-touches-down-on-asteroid/article28393671.ece

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