It began its descent on February 21, 6:00 am Japan time, taking pictures of what it saw as it approached the asteroid. This photo was one of the last before it fired the ball:
As the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Bureau lost contact with its ground crew, it had to wait for it to fly back into the air and the communication restored a second to fire the ball and take off again, so we're just waiting to see if it has successfully collected samples.
– Gene J. Mikulka, CC (@genjm29) February 21, 2019
Here is one edited version of this video in which JAXA has just shown where the tantalum bullet shoots into the surface. pic.twitter.com/mCLkBoWK94
– Jason Davis (@jasonrdavis) February 21, 2019
This operation was to take place as early as October, but the ground team discovered from Ryugu's surface has much to offer bigger gravel than they thought. They had to do experiments in the lab before performing the surgery. Once this trial proves successful, it is expected to fire an asteroid explosive later this year to create a crater and collect more fragments.
Hayabusa2 is expected to leave Ryugu in December 2019 and return home a year later. The samples it returns may shed light on how the early solar system was and give us more information about whether asteroids have sown soil with organic matter that led to life on our planet.