A Japanese probe sent to examine an asteroid in order to shed light on the origins of the solar system will now land on the rock several months later than planned, officials said Thursday (Oct 11). Scientists are already receiving data from other machines deployed on the surface of the Ryugu asteroid. (Photo: AFP/Handout) The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) told reporters the Hayabusa2 probe is now expected to touch down on the Ryugu asteroid in “late January” at the earliest, rather than at the end of this month as initially expected. JAXA project manager Yuichi Tsuda said they needed more time to prepare the landing as the latest data showed the asteroid surface was more rugged than expected. “The mission … is to land without hitting rocks,” Tsuda said, adding this was a “most difficult” operation. “We had expected the surface would be smooth … but it seems there’s no flat area.” Scientists are already receiving data from other machines deployed on the surface of the asteroid. Last week, JAXA successfully landed a new 10kg observation robot known as MASCOT – “Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout.” Loaded with sensors, the robot can take images at multiple wavelengths, investigate minerals with… Read full this story
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