Japan's Hayabusa2 probe successfully touches down on asteroid

TOKYO. KAZINFORM Japan's Hayabusa2 space probe successfully touched down Friday on a distant asteroid, the nation's space agency said, beginning the next phase of a mission aimed at discovering new insights into the origin of life and the evolution of the solar system.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency said it received a signal from Hayabusa2 showing it touched down on the Ryugu asteroid located 340 million kilometers from Earth, though it will need a few days to confirm whether the first surface samples were collected as planned, Kyodo News reports.The spacecraft is designed to fire a small projectile when the tip of a cylindrical horn protruding from its body touches Ryugu's surface, creating an artificial crater that allows materials from below to be collected.

"We have executed a complete (touchdown)," JAXA Research Director Takashi Kubota told reporters as other members at the mission control center rejoiced at the signals arriving from the probe. JAXA also confirmed Hayabusa2 has fired a projectile.

The asteroid is believed to contain organic substances and water with remnants of the primitive solar system.

To avoid colliding with large, rocky formations on the asteroid's surface, a landing area of about six meters in diameter was selected instead of the originally planned area of 100 meters in diameter, making navigation of the probe more difficult than initially expected, according to JAXA.

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