A Japanese probe sent to collect samples from an asteroid 300 million kilometers away for clues about the origin of life and the solar system landed successfully on Friday, scientists said.
Hayabusa2 has been touched down briefly on the Ryugu asteroid, fired and bullet into the surface to puff up dust for collection and blasted back to its holding position, said officials from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). of the control room showed dozens of JAXA staff members nervously monitoring the data before the touchdown before exploding into applause after receiving a signal from Hayabusa2 that it had landed
"We made a successful touchdown, including firing a bullet" into the Ryugu Asteroid, Yuichi Tsuda, Hayabusa2 project manager, told reporters.
"We made the ideal touchdown in the best conditions," he said.
The complicated procedure took less time than expected and appeared to go without a hitch, said Hayabusa2 mission manager Makoto Yoshikawa
"I'm really relieved now." It felt very long until the touchdown happened, "he said
He said the firing of the bullet-the first of three plann ed in this mission ̵
The asteroid is thought to contain relatively large amounts of organic matter and water from some 4.6 billion years ago when the solar system was born
During a later mission, Hayabusa2 will eventually fire an "impactor" to blast out material from underneath the Ryugu's surface, allowing the collection of "fresh" materials to be exposed to millions of wind and radiation
Queen rocker and space fan Brian May tweeted: "Hurrah, brilliant success in touchdown on Ryugu."
Communication with Hayabusa2 is cut off at times because its antennas are not always pointed towards Earth and it may take several more days to confirm the bullet was actually fired to allow the collection of samples
But it was pushed back after surveys found the asteroid's surface was more rugged than originally thought, forcing JAXA to take more time to find a suitable landing site