Hayabusa2 to start descent for new mission
NHK -- Apr 03
Japan's Hayabusa2 space probe is set to start descending toward an asteroid in about two days on a new mission to create an artificial crater on its surface.

Hayabusa2 has been observing the asteroid Ryugu, about 340 million kilometers from Earth.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, says the probe will make the world's first attempt to create an artificial crater on an asteroid and study its interior.

Hayabusa2 is scheduled to start its descent from 20,000 meters above Ryugu at around 1 p.m. Thursday, Japan time.

The probe is to continue to move down slowly and, at 500 meters above the surface, release a device called an impactor at around 11 a.m. Friday.

The impactor is designed to explode 40 minutes later to fire a metal object into the asteroid's surface at a speed of 7,200 kilometers per hour.

Mission Manager Makoto Yoshikawa told reporters that his team will take on a new challenge that would have been inconceivable with Hayabusa2's predecessor. He said team members are tense, but will be united to successfully conduct the mission they've carefully prepared for.

The mission follows Hayabusa2's touchdown on the asteroid in February. JAXA believes the probe collected rock samples as planned.

News source: NHK
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