The Japanese space probe Hayabusa 2 successfully landed this Thursday on the asteroid Ryugu for an unprecedented mission to collect rock samples from beneath the surface.
L & # 39; Aerospace Exploration Agency of Japanor JAXA, announced Thursday that Hayabusa2 started the descent from an altitude of 20,000 meters shortly before 2:00 GMT on Wednesday, at a speed of 40 centimeters per second.
After about 10 hours, when the probe was five thousand meters above the asteroid, he lowered his descent speed to 10 centimeters per second, as expected, underlined the chain NHK.
Data from the probe showed that it landed on the asteroid near 1:20 GMT this Thursday.
In February, the probe made its first landing at Ryugu. JAXA believes that, on this occasion, Hayabusa 2 rock samples successfully collected from the surface of the asteroid.
On this occasion, he will try to collect rocks that are below the surface, which are believed not to have been affected by cosmic rays. Scientists believe that these unaltered rocks will reveal more information about the origin of life and the formation of the solar system.
JAXA said it is the first attempt in history to investigate an asteroid. He also said that the landing was complicated, since the chosen site has only about seven meters in diameter.
The probe will leave the orbit of the asteroid by December 2019 and will make a one-year journey back to Earth.
The small unmanned spaceship, equipped with cameras and sensors, will also study the gravity, temperature and surface conditions of the asteroid.
Launched in December 2014 by the Tanegashima Space Center in southwestern Japan, Hayabusa2 made a smooth journey and adapted its orbit before reaching its destination, the agency said.
Should go back to land at the end of 2020 with rock samples. There are scientists who believe that it could contain water and organic matter from the time the solar system was born, four thousand 600 million years ago.
The diamond-shaped Ryugu, estimated to have a diameter of about 900 meters in previous observations, travels around the Sun once every 16 months, passing close to the Earth's and Mars's orbits.