Japan's Hayabusa2 probe makes second touchdown on asteroid

Hayabusa2 was launched in 2014

The samples targeted by Hayabusa2 on its latest mission were a layer of debris believed to have piled up on the surface after the probe created an artificial crater in April by firing a projectile at the asteroid.

The successful touch down is the second for the space probe, and JAXA said it began its descent to Ryugu on Wednesday morning from an altitude of 20,000 meters.

Around 80 JAXA engineers controlling and tracking the mission from the control center in Sagamihara City, near Tokyo, burst into applause upon seeing the data that confirmed the probe's successful landing.

According to JAXA, the underground materials have not been affected by space radiation and other factors, which could provide additional information to earlier samples taken from the surface.

"The landing was a huge success as [Hayabusa2] made a ideal move nearly in line with our expectations", Takashi Kubota, a professor at JAXA's Institute of Space and Astronautical Science told Japan's Kyodo news agency.

By early afternoon, JAXA said the probe had descended around five kilometres and was on track to touchdown Thursday on the Ryugu asteroid, some 300 million kilometres (185 million miles) from Earth.

Project manager Yuichi Tsuda stated from the mission control room that the touchdown was a success, and that the event "marked a new chapter in history".

Once the Hayabusa-2 returns to our planet, scientists will need to search the probe and take out objects from the Hayabusa-2's operations, including metal from the bomb and bullets, first.

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The touchdown is the last major part of Hayabusa2's mission, and when the probe returns to Earth next year scientists hope to learn more about the history of the solar system and even the origin of life from its samples.

Japan has successfully landed its Hayabusa 2 spacecraft on a distant asteroid for the second time.

If all things go as planned, Japan's Hayabusa 2 will be the first space mission to bring back samples from a C-class, or carbonaceous asteroid.

The probe first landed on Ryugu in February and is believed to have collect samples of surface sand and rocks. Scientists hope that analysis of these samples could help them better understand how the solar system formed.

The second touchdown requires special preparations because any problems could mean the probe loses the precious materials already gathered during its first landing.

The original incarnation collected dust samples from a smaller asteroid, which is described as looking like a potato.

The Hayabusa2 mission was launched on December 2014 and had a price tag of around 30 billion yen ($270 million).

John Bridges, a professor of planetary science at the UK's University of Leicester, told CNN that the Hayabusa 2 mission is interesting because of Ryugu's C-class status.

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