FILE - This computer graphics image released by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) shows the Hayabusa2 spacecraft above 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. (ISAS/JAXA via AP)
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JAXA says space probe landed on asteroid to get soil sample

32 Comments
By MARI YAMAGUCHI

Japan's space agency said data transmitted from the Hayabusa2 spacecraft indicated it successfully landed on a distant asteroid Thursday and completed its historic mission of collecting underground samples that scientists hope will provide clues to the origin of the solar system.

Hayabusa2 had created itself a landing crater in April by dropping a copper impactor. Thursday's mission was to land inside that crater and collect underground samples that scientists believe contain more valuable data.

Hayabusa2 is the first to successfully collect underground soil samples from an asteroid and comes ahead of a similar mission planned by the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration team at another asteroid.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, said it has confirmed data showing Hayabusa2 touched down and rose safely after collecting the samples as planned.

Takashi Kubota, a Hayabusa2 project member at JAXA, was beaming when he showed up at an unexpectedly early news conference to announce the result. The moment the success was announced in the command center, everyone stood up, cheered and applauded, some of them making victory signs.

"It was a success, a big success," Kubota said. "We achieved success in all scheduled procedures."

The spacecraft had started its gradual descent from its home location Wednesday. In the final landing phase Thursday, Hayabusa2 hovered at the height of 30 meters (100 feet) above the asteroid and quickly found its landing marker left from the earlier mission.

Actual landing was just few seconds. During the touchdown, Hayabusa2 would extend its sampling tube to the ground, shoot a pinball-size bullet to crack the surface and suck up the debris that got blasted off. Landing was a challenge for Hayabusa2 because of a risk of getting hit by dust and debris that remain at the crater, Kubota said.

"Everything went perfectly, even better than perfect, as if Hayabusa were reading our minds," he said.

He said JAXA plans to send the spacecraft, which was on its way back to the home position above the asteroid, to examine the landing site from above.

The asteroid, named Ryugu after an undersea dragon palace in a Japanese folktale, is about 300 million kilometers (180 million miles) from Earth. Hayabusa2 is expected to leave the asteroid to return to Earth at the end of next year, with the samples for scientific study.

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32 Comments
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Awesome!

1 ( +4 / -3 )

An amazing feat of Mathematics and Technology

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Excellent. Let's hope they can bring it back safely next year so we can have a look at what it finds.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

What a waste of money.

-11 ( +3 / -14 )

Congratulations! Hopefully, there will be some benefits from their efforts!

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Incredible work! Well done JAXA.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

I am Thomas.

See before believing.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Excellent news and well done to Japan!

0 ( +2 / -2 )

meanwhile rovers are still naviagting the surface of Mars, and other countries are eyeing a base on the moon and a manned mission to Mars. The composition of a comet was done 17yrs ago. While others are planning the next great phase of space exporation, JAXA is riding on the wake of legitimacy. triggered in 3 2 1

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Now if JAXA can just build a rocket that can get into orbit and not price itself out of the market at the same time. cant really point fingers at China for cheap copies now can we. Id warrent a guess that Chinas space agency will surpass Japans in terms of accomplishments , if it hasnt already

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

". The composition of a comet was done 17yrs ago"

A comet is not an asteroid.

The first asteroid to be visited is this one, now, not 17 years ago.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

An amazing feat of Mathematics and Technology

been done to death, now try getting men to the moon and back with less computing power than a modern day smartphone, now that's an amazing feat of mathematics and technology, moon conspiracy theories in 3 2 1

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I've read and re-read the comments downvoting Japan's achievement yesterday & I can't see what's not to like.

Perhaps those who disagree could elaborate, just out of genuine curiosity?

4 ( +5 / -1 )

"I've read and re-read the comments downvoting Japan's achievement yesterday & I can't see what's not to like"

Perhaps because the "experts" cannot stomach Japan doing anything?

When a visit to a comet is taken to mirror a visit to an asteroid, why words?

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Perhaps because the "experts" cannot stomach Japan doing anything?

Perhaps. Like all countries, it has its good things and bad but I like to think the former outweighs the latter. And this is genuine punch-the-air joy for anyone who has a passing interest in space exploration.

Would be nice to leave the politics and any personal beefs out of a story like this :-)

4 ( +4 / -0 )

'"Like all countries, it has its good things and bad but I like to think the former outweighs the latter. "

You and I know that; try telling this to the "experts" though.

This is a massive technological achievement, "JT experts" dissenting, of course.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

You and I know that; try telling this to the "experts" though.

Ach, everyone's an expert in something.... I don't know who the experts are here, though...

This is a massive technological achievement, "JT experts" dissenting, of course.

It is a massive technological achievement & I'd be excited no matter what country had made the breakthrough but I'm also pleased it was Japan.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

When a visit to a comet is taken to mirror a visit to an asteroid, why words?

comet / asteroids just clumps of ice and rock moving through space , if you clump enough of them together you get planets, unfortunately planets have gravity and atmospheres which makes them very difficult to rendezvous with without burning up , crashing into or bouncing off.

Would be nice to leave the politics and any personal beefs out of a story like this :-)

I agree accomplishments can and are mimicked, just have to decide if yours is actually unique and a first or a repeat.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

One small step for man. One giant leap for mankind.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

The first asteroid to be visited is this one, now, not 17 years ago.

actually no Eros (asteroid) was landed on by NASA in 2001, they transmitted for 16days after landing.

JAXA has just added to that by landing taking off and landing again to bring samples back. supercomputers in 2019 are far better than they were in 2001.

if you want to get technical first scaled up asteroid, was the moon, 50yrs ago, 200lb of samples were brought back then. then Mercury and Venus also had landings, even China has landed a rover on the moon , twice. Titans moon Saturn was landed on in 2005. So like I said JAXA accomplishment while impressive is certainly not new or unique.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_landings_on_extraterrestrial_bodies

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

This is a massive technological achievement, "JT experts" dissenting, of course.

yes I agree for the first astoroid "Eros" landing in 2001 by NASA that is a great achievment, JAXA also in 2019

0 ( +0 / -0 )

One small step for man. One giant leap for mankind.

sorry no men sent to Ryugu, giant leap!? maybe a few more steps in the right direction.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Eros is a near-Earth asteroid, 8.42 km; in other words, close enough and big enough. A brief landing in 2001 by Nasa.

Eros did not bring anything back to Earth.

Jaxa, already landed on Itokawa (2005), collected dust and returned to Earth.

Hayabusa II is the second mission (not first, as I somehow misrepresented).

Hayabusa I returned after 7 years and a few days, after being "declared" lost by most; that it came back at all after all that time is an attestation of their ion-engine's capability, as well as Jaxa's expertise.

Ryugu is not a near-Earth asteroid, diameter of less than 1 km, therefore far less easier to find, land on and collect samples.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

"Eros did not bring anything back to Earth."

Correction: Nasa did not bring anything back from Eros's landing.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Nasa did not bring anything back from Eros's landing.

didnt say that , I said they landed on Eros which is an asteroird and was the first agency to do so not JAXA.

NASA has brought back 100slb of space rocks, theyve drilled into the surface of Mars and tested samples, driven many miles over the surface. Makes Hayabusa seem insignificant

Hayabusa II is the second mission

like I said landing on an asteroid is not a first for JAXA, NASA did that 18yrs ago.

Ryugu is not a near-Earth asteroid, diameter of less than 1 km, therefore far less easier to find, land on and collect samples.

Try landing on Mars, Venus , Titan or even the moon, JAXA has only crashed into the surface. lot more difficult to land on an object that has far more gravity than an asteroid. JAXA not even on the same page as NASA or the EU space agency yet and unless they want to spend 10s Trillions of yen its unlikely they ever will.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

"Try landing on Mars, Venus , Titan or even the moon,"

Of course; everyone knows in far more difficult to land on an object only 3 seconds away from radio signal (Moon) than to land on another one that takes about 30 minutes to contact (Ryugu).

You're right; Hyabusa is an easy mission, anyone could do it, piece of cake.

"...the spacecraft has to be controlled very precisely, to around a few millimetres per second accuracy. That means at any time, the craft that's currently 180 million miles from Earth can be tracked to within a few millimetres of its position. 

That means at any time, the craft that's currently 180 million miles from Earth can be tracked to within a few millimetres of its position. "

https://www.wired.co.uk/article/japan-ryugu-asteroid-landing-rover

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

It seems to me that other countries scientists do not want some Ryugu soil sample from Japan when it returned. Maybe others already have similar asteroid soil, so they say scientifically nothing new.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

You're right; Hyabusa is an easy mission, anyone could do it, piece of cake.

never said it was easy , but its already been done.

Of course; everyone knows in far more difficult to land on an object only 3 seconds away from radio signal (Moon) than to land on another one that takes about 30 minutes to contact (Ryugu).

MARS and Titan are just as far away and even more than Ryugu, you've also got to figure how to slow down enter the atmosphere without burning up, bouncing off or crashing , dont have that problem with an asteroid.

Try taking tonnes of equipment to the moon and three astronauts, orbit the moon, land two astronauts on the moon, walk and drive on the surface, take off with 100s lb of moon rocks and two astronauts, dock in moons orbit again and come back to earth, while keeping all three astronauts alive, oh and do all that without modern supercomputers doing all the calculations and simulations before hand, using radio communication technology from 50yrs ago. Hayubusa 2 is around 1m x 1.6m x 1.25m in dimensions basically like a small satellite, yeah not really even in the same ballpark as the Apollo missions or MARS rover missions. MARS rovers have navigated the surface or Mars for dozens of miles, drilled and tested samples from the surface taken HD photos and all done with a 24 minute delay depending on the orbit of Mars to Earth. two more Mars rovers are expected to arrive in 2021. So while JAXA is shooting BB guns at rocks in space the real future of space exploration is a base on the moon and a manned mission to Mars.

It seems to me that other countries scientists do not want some Ryugu soil sample from Japan when it returned. Maybe others already have similar asteroid soil, so they say scientifically nothing new.

if they were smart they would have put testing equipment in the spacecraft like Mars rovers then there wouldnt be a any risk of losing them by bringing them back to earth

0 ( +0 / -0 )

if they were smart they would have put testing equipment in the spacecraft like Mars rovers then there wouldnt be a any risk of losing them by bringing them back to earth

It seems much more important to bring real samples back from the asteroid to study/test them more precisely for all kinds of scientific purposes. If it doesn't bring any sample back at all, not much to test more about it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If it doesn't bring any sample back at all, not much to test more about it.

runs a higher risk of loss, as the voyage home could be met with all kinds of problems, testing on the asteroid and sending data back is a safer alternative.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Hayabusa main mission is to get soil samples from the asteroid. Mars rover mission is sent a probe to get data from soil on Mars. Japanese team knew well the risk about the mission from the beginning but they planned it intentionally. Ryugu is 300 million kilometers away, so the Hayabusa spacecraft weight got be very light. The Rover spacecraft carried heavy test equipment to Mars. It is much nearer to Earth than Ryugu.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Japanese team knew well the risk about the mission from the beginning but they planned it intentionally. Ryugu is 300 million kilometers away,

distance isnt the only problem, when you get to Mars youve got to slow down enter the atmosphere and slow enough so you can land on the surface, all instruments have to be intact undamaged , then you have to navigate the surface of the planet without getting the rover stuck or damaged all with a 24minute signal delay. Mars rover missions are a whole different level of complexity than Ryugu which has no atmosphere and almost zero gravity, if it wasn't then JAXA would have tried visiting a planet instead of a asteroid which has already been done. If you want to talk distances then look at voyager 1 its currently about 21.6 billion km away.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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