Japan has claimed a world first with its Hayabusa 2 probe which made a “perfect” touchdown today on a distant asteroid. Not only that, but the Hayabusa2 probe also collected samples from beneath the surface of the asteroid. This unprecedented mission may help provide more insight about the origins of the solar system.
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency project manager Yuichi Tsuda said at a news conference that “We’ve collected a part of the solar system’s history,” as subsurface material has never been gathered before from a celestial body that was further away from the moon. Japan has been able to do it successfully in a world first.
The Hayabusa2 probe is the size of a fridge and it made its second landing on the asteroid earlier today. The confirmation that it had landed actually came when the probe lifted back up from the asteroid and was able to resume communications with the control room in Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture.
The probe’s mission is now complete as it has collected the samples. Hayabusa2 did that by extending a tube to the surface and then firing a small metallic projectile to capture the subsurface debris as it floated up. This was the second time that the Hayabusa2 touched down on the asteroid which is some 300 million kilometers from Earth. It will begin its journey back to Earth by the end of this year.