Japan delays the spacecraft that lands on the very rocky asteroid

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TOKYO – The Japanese space agency is delaying a landing of a spaceship on an asteroid because scientists need more time to find a safe landing site on the extremely rocky surface.

The spacecraft Hayabusa2 left Earth in 2014 and traveled 280 million kilometers (170 million kilometers) to the area of ​​the asteroid Ryugu, which it reached in June.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency plans to attempt three short touch-and-go landings on Ryugu to collect samples in hopes of obtaining clues to the origin of the solar system and life on Earth. The project director JAXA, Yuichi Tsuda, said on Friday that the asteroid more rock than expected has no flat spaces for landing.

Hayabusa2 will repeat near-touchdown approaches to the asteroid later this month and will analyze its surface details. A first landing is scheduled at the end of January or later.

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