The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)’s Hayabusa-2 probe began its journey back in December 2014. It landed on its target asteroid, Ryugu, last Thursday, July 11, at 01:06 UTC according to JAXA. The probe’s mission is simple on paper but complex in practice.
It is to collect rock samples from the surface of the half-mile-wide asteroid. In June, Hayabusa-2 orbited the asteroid and got its bearings as for how the landing on the surface would proceed.
Ryugu is of particular interest to researchers because it is one of the many ancient asteroids in our solar system. As Science Alert points out, Ryugu is a type-C asteroid which means it is mainly composed of carbon, water molecules, and maybe even amino acids – the basic building blocks of life.
One theory for the beginning of life on Earth is that an asteroid brought the necessary materials for life to start on this planet and Ryugu could confirm or disprove this. Here are some of the pictures the team tweeted out.
You can read JAXA's press on the probe by clicking here.
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