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Japan's Hayabusa2 successfully landed on asteroid before returning to Earth

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Christian Fernsby |
Hayabusa2
World   After collecting bits of the rock, it will fly back down to Earth

Japan's Hayabusa2 spacecraft has successfully landed on a distant asteroid and scooped samples from underneath its surface.

After collecting bits of the rock, it will fly back down to Earth in the hope of revealing clues to the origins of the solar system and perhaps even helping to reveal where life came from.

Hayabusa2 had already created itself a landing crater in April by dropping a copper impactor, which acted like a space cannon and blew open a hole in the rock.

Thursday's mission was to land inside the crater and collect underground samples that scientists believe contain more valuable data.

The Hayabusa2 craft is the first to successfully collect underground soil samples from an asteroid and its achievement comes ahead of a similar mission planned by the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration team at another asteroid.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) said it has confirmed data showing Hayabusa2 touched down and rose safely after collecting the samples as planned.

In the final landing phase on Thursday, Hayabusa2 hovered at the height of 30 metres (100ft) above the asteroid and quickly found its landing marker left from the earlier mission.

The actual landing was just a few seconds.


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