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Home / Science / Japan is trying to land robots on asteroids 186 miles away

Japan is trying to land robots on asteroids 186 miles away



On September 21st, the spaceship will deploy the first of two lander asteroids themselves where they will collect samples and conduct experiments. A second lander will be launched on 3 October.

Later in the mission, the spacecraft itself will land on the asteroid after it has blown a small crater of explosives so that under the surface of the object, samples may be collected that were not exposed to space.

According to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), if successful, this will be the "world's first sample recirculation mission to a C-asteroid."

Japanese scientists are currently racing NASA for this historic achievement. The US agency is expected to return to Earth in 2023. Hayabusa-2 is expected to return in 2020.

Treasure Trove

Under its bleak surface, it is believed that asteroids billions of years ago contain a wealth of information about the formation of the solar system.

"By exploring a C-type asteroid rich in water and organic materials, we will clarify the interactions between the building blocks of the Earth and the evolution of their oceans and their lives, thus developing the science of the solar system", said JAXA.

C-type asteroids, which are mostly composed of carbon, are the most common type of asteroid and comprise more than 75% of the asteroids currently discovered. The other two major types of asteroids, according to NASA, are the metallic S and M types.

Despite years of planning, Ryugu's diamond form surprised the team as the mission approached the asteroid.

"From a distance, Ryugu first appeared round, then gradually became a square before receiving a beautiful, fluorite-like shape ̵

1; known in Japan as 'firefly stone'," a statement by the Space Agency says , [19659007] "This form of Ryugu is scientifically surprising and also presents some technical challenges," it says about difficulties, including landing, on the unusually shaped asteroid.

That said, the team has already achieved a mighty feat by putting the 900-meter-wide rock – something it describes as equivalent – a 6-centimeter (2.4-inch) target at 20,000 kilometers (12,400 miles) away hold true.

"In other words, reaching Ryugu is the same for a 6-centimeter goal in Brazil from Japan," the agency said.

CNN's Yoko Wakatsuki and Junko Ogura reported on the coverage.


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