TheJakartaPost

Please Update your browser

Your browser is out of date, and may not be compatible with our website. A list of the most popular web browsers can be found below.
Just click on the icons to get to the download page.

Jakarta Post

Japan space probe on its way back after asteroid mission

  •  

    Reuters

Tokyo, Japan   /   Mon, November 18, 2019   /   05:53 pm
Japan space probe on its way back after asteroid mission This handout photograph released by the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS) of Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) on July 11, 2019 shows four seconds after the Hayabusa2 probe landed onto the asteroid Ryugu. (Handout/ISAS-JAXA/AFP/File)

A Japanese space probe is heading home from an asteroid 250 million km (155 million miles) from Earth after collecting sub-surface samples that could help scientists seeking the origins of life, Japan's space agency said on Monday.

Asteroids are believed to have formed at the dawn of the solar system and scientists say the asteroid, called Ryugu, may contain organic matter that may have contributed to life on Earth.

If the return trip is completed successfully, that will be the first time samples from beneath an asteroid's surface have been brought back to Earth, a spokeswoman for the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, said.

The unmanned Hayabusa 2, named after a falcon, began leaving Ryugu last week, but it is still sending images back to Earth.

Those observations will be wrapped up on Monday or Tuesday before its main engine is activated for the year-long flight, JAXA said.

"This is us bidding farewell to Ryugu," the spokeswoman said.

Hayabusa 2 is scheduled to return to Earth by the end of 2020. After dropping off a capsule containing the samples, without landing, the probe itself will keep on going and fly away into space, finishing its six-year, 29 billion yen ($266 million) mission. ($1 = 109.1000 yen)