Japan successfully lands spacecraft on asteroid

Japan successfully lands spacecraft on asteroid
Copyright JAXA
Copyright JAXA
By Shafi Musaddique
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Hayabusa 2 touched down on the Ryugu asteroid and will bring back the biggest number of samples from space since astronauts landed on the moon


A Japanese space probe has successfully landed on an asteroid, 300 million kilometres away from the Earth.

Hayabusa2 touched down on the distant asteroid named Ryugu and shot a projectile into the asteroid to collect samples.

Japan’s space agency JAXA said the probe touched down at approximately 7:30 a.m Tokyo time (11:30 p.m. CET Thursday).

Hayabusa2 has a one-metre device that extends to dig into the asteroid’s rocky surface. The probe can fire so-called bullets and take a sample.

Hayabusa2 mission manager Makoto Yoshikawa said he believes reaching the asteroid opens a new era in science.

The probe began its journey in 2014 and is scheduled to return back to Earth in 2020 after completing other landing attempts.

This isn’t the first time Japan’s space agency has landed a probe on an asteroid.

JAXA sent predecessor spacecraft Hayabusa to an asteroid named Itokawa to collect dust.

The US has also landed a probe on the surface of an asteroid only 500 metres in diameter. The Osiris-Rex US craft will return to Earth holding the largest number of samples since astronauts returned from the moon 50 years earlier.

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