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Falcon has landed: Japan's Hayabusa2 probe touches down on asteroid

Falcon has landed: Japan's Hayabusa2 probe touches down on asteroid

7/11/2019

Falcon has landed: Japan 's Hayabusa2 probe touches down on asteroid

Unmanned craft – about the size of a large refrigerator – plans to collect ground samples, some 300 million kilometres from Earth

Its landing is the second time the probe has touched down on the desolate asteroid as part of a complex mission that has also involved sending rovers and robots.

“This is the second touchdown, but doing a touchdown is a challenge whether it’s the first or the second,” Yuichi Tsuda, Hayabusa2 project manager, told reporters ahead of the mission.

The second touchdown required special preparations because any problems could have meant the probe lost the precious materials already gathered during its first landing.

“It would be safe to say that extremely attractive materials are near the crater,” Tsuda said.

That probe returned with dust samples from a smaller, potato-shaped asteroid in 2010, despite various setbacks during its epic seven-year odyssey and was hailed as a scienwratific triumph.

In 2005, NASA’s Deep Impact project succeeded in creating an artificial crater on a comet but only for observation purposes.

Read more: The Guardian

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