Hayabusa-2: Japan spacecraft touches down on asteroid

From BBC News:

A Japanese spacecraft has touched down on an asteroid in an attempt to collect a sample of rock from the surface.

The Hayabusa-2 probe was trying to grab the sample from a pre-chosen site on the asteroid Ryugu just before 23:00 GMT on 21 February.

The spacecraft reached asteroid Ryugu in June 2018 after a three-and-a-half-year journey from Earth.

Hayabusa-2 is expected to return to Earth in 2020 along with its rocky hoard.

During sample collection, the spacecraft approached the 1km-wide asteroid with an instrument called the sampler horn. On touchdown, a 5g “bullet” made of the metal tantalum was fired into the rocky surface at 300m/s.

The particles kicked up by the impact should have been be caught by the sampler horn.

“We made a successful touchdown, including firing a bullet,” said Hayabusa-2 project manager Yuichi Tsuda.

“We made the ideal touchdown in the best conditions,” he said.

 

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