TOKYO (Sputnik) – Japanese asteroid explorer Hayabusa2 has successfully performed its second landing on the surface of the asteroid Ryugu, Japan’s space agency JAXA said on Thursday.
“July 11 at 10:51 JST [01:51 GMT]: Gate 5 check. The state of the spacecraft is normal and the touchdown sequence was performed as scheduled. Project Manager Tsuda has declared that the 2nd touchdown was a success!” JAXA wrote on the probe’s Twitter.
A webcast on the JAXA website showed that the probe began descending from an altitude of 20 kilometres (13 miles) on Wednesday, aiming to land near a crater that it created in April by firing a bullet into the asteroid’s soil.
During the touchdown, the probe will collect the samples of material released from firing the projectile into the surface to later bring them to Earth.
Scientists believe that the samples, which the Japanese probe will try to collect, may shed light on how the Solar System was created and how life appeared on Earth.
Hayabusa2 was launched in 2014 and is expected to return to Earth in 2020.
Ryugu is currently over 300 million kilometres away from Earth.