Hayabusa2 aborts descent to asteroid
NHK -- May 17
Japan's Hayabusa2 probe has aborted its descent to asteroid Ryugu after it reached around 50 meters above the surface. The probe was supposed to drop a marker on the asteroid to prepare for another landing.

Hayabusa2 succeeded in April to create about a ten-meter wide crater on Ryugu by firing a metal object into its surface. Earlier in February, it landed on Ryugu to collect rock samples.

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency plans to have the probe try another landing inside the crater or on a surrounding area to collect rock samples that were exposed by the impact in April. .

Thursday's mission was to observe the targeted area in detail and drop a marker from an altitude of 10 meters.

But officials say the probe automatically suspended the operation after it descended to about 50 meters above the surface. It then headed toward its standby position of 20 kilometers above Ryugu.

Hayabusa2 is designed to automatically abort its landing if it detected any irregularity. The agency is looking into the cause of the arrested descent.

JAXA says the second landing will only be possible until early July. It is planning to make three pre-landing surveys by descending close to the surface. But some observers worry the time schedule is getting tight following the landing incident.

News source: NHK
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