Latest in Tomorrow

Image credit: JAXA via AP

Japan's Hayabusa2 lands on asteroid Ryugu to collect samples

The samples could help shed light on how life on Earth began.
719 Shares
Share
Tweet
Share
Save

Sponsored Links

JAXA via AP

Japan's Hayabusa2 spacecraft has successfully touched down on the surface of asteroid Ryugu to accomplish one of its ultimate goals: collect samples for scientists back on Earth. The probe has briefly landed on the asteroid to fire a bullet into its surface and kick up dust, rocks and any other debris that it can collect. Hayabusa2 has been hovering around Ryugu since mid-2018 and even dropped two landers on the floating rock to study its surface and take photos.

It started its descent on February 21st, 6AM Japan time, taking photos of what it saw as it approached the asteroid. This photo was one of the last it captured before it fired the bullet:

JAXA

Image: JAXA

Since it lost contact with its ground team when it touched down, the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency had to wait for it take flight again and restore communications. It only took the spacecraft a second to fire that bullet and take off again, though, so we're now just waiting to hear if it has successfully collected samples.

This operation was supposed to happen back in October, but the ground team discovered from Ryugu's surface has much bigger gravel than they thought. They had to perform experiments in the lab before they give the operation a go. Now that this attempt proved successful, they're expected to fire an explosive into the asteroid later this year to create a crater and collect additional fragments.

Hayabusa2 is scheduled to leave Ryugu in December 2019 and to be back home a year later. The samples it brings back could shed light on what the early solar system was like and could give us more information on the possibility that asteroids seeded Earth with organic matter that led to life on our planet.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Comment
Comments
Share
719 Shares
Share
Tweet
Share
Save

Popular on Engadget

'The Outer Worlds' DLC is coming next year

'The Outer Worlds' DLC is coming next year

View
TCL's 2018 65-inch 6-Series 4K TV drops to $500

TCL's 2018 65-inch 6-Series 4K TV drops to $500

View
The $1,399 Pixelbook Go with 4K display is now available

The $1,399 Pixelbook Go with 4K display is now available

View
US cancels plans for new penalty tariffs on Chinese-made products

US cancels plans for new penalty tariffs on Chinese-made products

View
Tesla Cybertruck will likely get medium-duty truck classification like Ford Super Duty and others

Tesla Cybertruck will likely get medium-duty truck classification like Ford Super Duty and others

View

From around the web

Page 1Page 1ear iconeye iconFill 23text filevr