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Japan lands on an asteroid today and you can watch it live!



The Japanese Spacecraft Hayabusa2 touches an asteroid called Ryugu to take a sample – and you can watch the action live. ) who manages the spacecraft, which begins today (21 February) at 4:45 EST (2145 GMT). You can watch live at Space.com with the courtesy of JAXA or the YouTube of the agency .

6:30 pm Local time at JAXA headquarters (February 20 at about 4:30 EST, 21:30 GMT), with the decision to approach the asteroid about 6 hours later.

Before the descent began, Haiabusa2 was hanging in its "home position," about 12.4 miles (20 km) above the surface of the asteroid. The spacecraft is approaching closer in the next few hours, sending images from its navigation camera about twice per hour. These images take about 1

9 minutes to reach the Earth because of the distance to Ryugu. During the touchdown itself, the spacecraft will not be properly inclined to continue sending pictures to the home.

During the first few hours of the launch, the spacecraft dropped at about 35 inches / second (90 centimeters per second), which was about twice as fast as initially planned by JAXA to compensate for the start of the downgrade about 5 hours later than planned. By February 21 at about 9:15 EST (1415 GMT), Hayabusa is just 1.8 miles (3km) above the surface.

Hayabusa2 is scheduled to touch around 6:06. EST (2306 GMT). On the surface will shoot what is essentially a bullet into the gravel surface of Ryugu and sucks the resulting debris to bring them back to Earth. to return to its "starting position". The ship still has a lot of work in Ryugu, including releasing another small rover onto the surface of the asteroid before returning to the end of this year.

] mbartels@space.com or follow it @meghanbartels . Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook .


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