Japanese spacecraft Hayabusa2 successfully lands on asteroid

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Sagamihara (Japan): A Japanese spacecraft successfully landed on a distant asteroid on Friday as part of its a mission to collect material that could provide clues to the origin of the solar system and life on Earth.

Hayabusa2’s descent was delayed for about five hours for a safety check, but the unmanned craft touched down and took off again as scheduled on Friday morning, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency confirmed.

The asteroid, named Ryugu after an undersea palace in a Japanese folktale, is about 900 meters in diameter and 280 million kilometres from Earth.

The touchdown lasted just seconds, the probe was due to extend a pipe and shoot a pinball-like bullet into the asteroid to blow up material from beneath the surface.

If all has gone successfully, the craft will have collected samples that will eventually be sent back home.