Japan delays spacecraft landing on very rocky asteroid


Japan delays spacecraft landing on very rocky asteroid
This Sept. 23, 2018 file image captured by Rover-1B, and provided by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) shows the surface of asteroid Ryugu. Japan’s space agency is delaying a spacecraft touchdown on an asteroid as scientists need more time to find a safe landing site on the extremely rocky surface. (JAXA via AP, File)

Japan’s space agency is delaying a spacecraft touchdown on an asteroid because scientists need more time to find a safe landing site on the extremely rocky surface.

The spacecraft Hayabusa2 left Earth in 2014 and traveled 280 million kilometers (170 million miles) to the area of asteroid Ryugu, which it reached in June.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency plans to attempt three brief touch-and-go landings on Ryugu to collect samples in hopes of gaining clues to the origin of the solar system and life on Earth. JAXA project manager Yuichi Tsuda said Friday that the rockier-than-expected asteroid hardly has any flat spaces for .

Hayabusa2 will rehearse near-touchdown approaches to the asteroid later this month and analyze its surface details. A first landing is expected in late January or later.

This Oct. 3, 2018 image taken at an altitude of about 25 meter by Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout (MASCAT)’s camera and provided by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) shows the surface of asteroid Ryugu. The dot at top right is the silhouette of MASCAT. Japan’s space agency is delaying a spacecraft touchdown on an asteroid as scientists need more time to find a safe landing site on the extremely rocky surface. (MASCOT, DLR, JAXA via AP)
Japan delays spacecraft landing on very rocky asteroid
This computer graphic image provided by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) shows the Japanese unmanned spacecraft Hayabusa2 approaching on the asteroid Ryugu. Japan’s space agency is delaying a spacecraft touchdown on an asteroid as scientists need more time to find a safe landing site on the extremely rocky surface. (JAXA via AP)
Japan delays spacecraft landing on very rocky asteroid
This Oct. 3, 2018, photo provided by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) shows JAXA’s Hayabusa project manager, Yuichi Tsuda at JAXA Institute of Space and Astronautical Science in Sagamihara, near Tokyo. Japan’s space agency is delaying a spacecraft touchdown on an asteroid as scientists need more time to find a safe landing site on the extremely rocky surface. (JAXA via AP)


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