by Kyoko Hasegawa The successful landing is the second time Hayabusa2 has touched down on the distant asteroid Ryugu Japan's Hayabusa2 probe made a "perfect" touchdown Thursday on a distant asteroid, collecting samples from beneath the surface in an unprecedented mission that could shed light on the origins of the solar system.
The fridge-sized probe made its second landing on the asteroid around 10:30am (0130GMT), with officials from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) breaking into applause and cheers as initial data suggested the touchdown had been a success.
Officials from Japan's space agency celebrated news of Hayabusa2's successful second touchdown on the asteroid Ryugu Ryugu, which means "Dragon Palace" in Japanese, refers to a castle at the bottom of the ocean in an ancient Japanese tale.
Hayabusa2 space mission 'The world is watching' A photo of the crater taken by Hayabusa2's camera after the April blast showed that parts of the asteroid's surface are covered with materials that are "obviously different" from the rest of the surface, mission manager Makoto Yoshikawa told reporters before the latest touchdown.
This Feb. 22, 2019, file image released by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) shows the shadow, center above, of the Hayabusa2 spacecraft after its successful touchdown on the asteroid Ryugu.
Japan's space agency JAXA said Thursday, July 11, 2019 that data transmitted from the Hayabusa2 indicated its second successful touchdown on the distant asteroid to complete a historic mission - to collect underground samples in hopes of finding clues to the origin of the solar system.
The touchdown is the last major part of Hayabusa2's mission, and when the probe returns to Earth next year to drop off its samples, scientists hope to learn more about the history of the solar system and even the origin of life on Earth.