This graphic image from Japan, discovered by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), shows the Japanese unmanned spacecraft Hayabusa2 approaching asteroid Ryugu. Hayabusa2 approaches the surface of an asteroid about 280 million kilometers from Earth. JAXA said Thursday, February 21, 2019 that Hayabusa2 began its attitude at 1:15 pm (JAXA via AP, File)
A Japanese spacecraft began its approach Thursday against a distant asteroid on a mission to collect material that could provide clues to the solar system and life on earth.
Hayabusa2’s shutdown was delayed for about five hours for a security check, but the unmanned craft still depends on moving down as planned Friday morning, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency said.
During the touchdown, which will only be seconds, Hayabusa2 will extend a tube and shoot a flip-like ball into the asteroid to burst material from beneath the surface. If all goes well, the booklet will collect samples that are eventually sent back to earth. Friday’s attempt is the first of three such touchdowns planned.
The short landing will be challenging because of the uneven and paved surface. Hayabusa2 aims at a diameter of 6 meters (20 feet) to avoid obstacles. The space office controls will direct their approach until it is 500 meters above the surface of the asteroid, after which it will be itself because it takes 20 minutes for commands from the earth to reach the vessel.
JAXA, as the Japanese space organization is known, has compared landing in the circle to land on a baseball hill from its height of 20 kilometers across the asteroid.
In this photo, provided by the Japanese Space Exploration Agency (JAXA), staff of the Hayabusa2 project oversee security control supervisors at the JAXA Space and Astronautical Science Control Room in Sagamihara, near Tokyo , Thursday, February 21, 2019. Japanese spacecraft Hayabusa2 approaches the surface of the asteroid Ryugu about 280 million miles from Earth. JAXA said Thursday that Hayabusa2 started its attitude at 1:15 pm (ISAS / JAXA via AP)
The asteroid, named Ryugu after an underground palace in a Japanese folklore, is about 900 meters (3,000 feet) and 280 million kilometers from the earth.
On October 25, 2018, the image provided by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) shows asteroid Ryugu. Japanese spacecraft Hayabusa2 is approaching the surface of an asteroid about 280 million kilometers from Earth. JAXA said Thursday, February 21, 2019 that Hayabusa2 began its attitude at 1:15 pm Hayabusa2’s shadow is seen in the middle over Ryugu. (JAXA via AP)
Japan’s Hayabusa2 probe to land on asteroid on February 22