A Japanese spacecraft landed on an asteroid Ryugu and fired a bullet into it

The probe will collect samples of the space rock Ryugu and return them to Earth.

A Japanese spacecraft Hayabusa2 has successfully landed on a distant space rock Ryugu for sample retrieval. The refrigerator-sized Hayabusa 2 craft settled on asteroid Ryugu a few minutes before 6 p.m. ET (about 8 a.m. local time in Japan) on Feb. 22.

After the successful landing, the spacecraft fired a bullet into the asteroid to capture a bit of debris that eventually will be returned to Earth. However, it is unclear yet whether the debris collected or not.

Ryugu is a type C asteroid, but it is believed that there were organic matter and water on the asteroid when the solar system was created (roughly 4.6 billion years ago) and that these still exist.

This photo of the asteroid Ryugu's surface was captured on Sept. 28, 2018 by one of the rovers released by Japan's Hayabusa 2 spacecraft.HANDOUT / AFP - Getty Images
This photo of the asteroid Ryugu’s surface was captured on Sept. 28, 2018 by one of the rovers released by Japan’s Hayabusa 2 spacecraft.HANDOUT / AFP – Getty Images

Launched by JAXA in 2014, the refrigerator-sized Hayabusa 2 reached Ryugu in June 2018, after a voyage of 2 billion miles. In the months since then, the craft dropped a pair of small rovers on the space rock to explore its surface.

Hayabusa 2 is a mission designed to elucidate the secrets of the creation of life and the birth of the solar system. After the touchdown, data analysis from Hayabusa2 confirms that the sequence of operation proceeded, including shooting a projectile into the asteroid to collect its sample material.

As officials reported, the probe is in the nominal state.

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