Japan’s space program JAXA has had an astounding 24 hours. The group’s Hayabusa2 asteroid probe, which landed at its objective Ryugu a year ago, played out its most challenging maneuver yet by leaving its orbit around the rock and contacting down on its surface for one minute. In any case, that is not everything it did.
The plan all along has been for Hayabusa2 to recover samples of the diamond-shaped asteroid so as to take them back to Earth, however snatching a sample isn’t as simple as it sounds. So as to effectively gather dust from the rock amid its concise touchdown the rocket needed to shoot a bullet into Ryugu, and it needed to do the majority of this without direct control from its handlers on Earth more than 180 million miles away.
JAXA engineers trusted that the probe will send back data on its move, with signs taking around 20 minutes to go forward and backward among Earth and the rocket.
Be that as it may, in spite of the extraordinary challenge presented by the rocky surface of Ryugu, JAXA says its probe pulled off the accomplishment, effectively firing the projectile into the asteroid’s surface and after that grabbing a sample of its dust before boosting itself over into a holding position in orbit around the rock.
“We made a successful touchdown, including firing a bullet. We made the ideal touchdown in the best conditions,” Yuichi Tsuda, project manager of the Hayabusa2 mission, told reporters. “I’m really relieved now. It felt very long until the moment the touchdown happened.”
That feeling of relief probably won’t keep going extremely long, as Hayabusa2 still has a lot of work in front of it before it can call its main goal genuinely complete. The probe will perform two additional moves like this one, gathering dust samples and afterward at last withdrawing for Earth where it will convey the asteroid material. It will touch base back on our planet in 2020 if all goes as arranged.