Japan space probe to collect rock from asteroid - CBBC Newsround

Japan space probe to collect rock from asteroid - CBBC Newsround

Japan space probe to collect rock from asteroid - CBBC Newsround

All eyes will be on space on Friday when Japan's Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) tries to land a spacecraft on a far-flung asteroid.

JAXA, as the Japanese space agency is known, has compared landing in the circle to landing on a baseball mound from its height of 20 kilometres (6 miles) above the asteroid.

The probe is scheduled to touchdown on the asteroid on Friday morning and begin collecting rock samples from Ryugu's surface, JAXA said, adding that if any abnormalities were detected in the landing procedure, the mission would be immediately aborted. If that succeeds, the craft would then collect samples to eventually be sent back to Earth.

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.

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During the touchdown, which will last just seconds, Hayabusa2 will extend a pipe and shoot a pinball-like bullet into the asteroid to blow up material from beneath the surface. Researchers also hope to find clues into how life started on Earth, according to the report. Three such touchdowns are planned.

Communication with Hayabusa2 is cut off at times because its antennas are not always pointed towards Earth and it could take several more days to confirm the bullet was actually fired to allow the collection of samples.

JAXA said the images of Ryugu captured by the robots have revealed a cluster of bumpy rocks and a lack of flat surfaces for the main probe to land on. Japanese spacecraft Hayabusa2 is approaching the surface of the asteroid Ryugu about 280 million kilometers (170 million miles) from Earth.

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