World|science|February 22, 2019 / 02:25 PM
Japan probe Hayabusa2 touches down on Ryugu asteroid

AKIPRESS.COM - A Japanese spacecraft has successfully touched down on an asteroid some 280 million kilometres from the Earth, on a mission to collect material that could provide clues about the origin of life and the solar system, Al Jazeera reported.

Data from the probe, Hayabusa2, showed changes in speed and direction, indicating it had landed on the distant Ryugu asteroid and was blasting back to its orbiting position, officials from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) said on Thursday.

A live webcast of the control room showed dozens of JAXA staff members nervously monitoring data before the touchdown before exploding into applause after receiving a signal from the probe, Hayabusa2, that it had landed.

Japan's spacecraft was due to fire a bullet at the asteroid to stir up the surface matter, which the probe will then collect for analysis back on the Earth.

The asteroid is thought to contain relatively large amounts of organic matter and water from some 4.6bn years ago when the solar system was born.

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