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Japan lays a spacecraft on a distant asteroid to collect samples

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) announced the news on its social media Wednesday morning.

"The state of the spacecraft (Hayabusa 2) is normal and the handshake sequence has been completed as planned." Project leader Tsuda said the second hit had been a success! 39, agency on Twitter.

After landing, the Hayabusa 2 is expected to collect samples under the surface of the asteroid, which Japanese scientists hope to shed new light on the evolution of the solar system.

The agency said that the operation, if successful, would mark the first time that a space probe was taking samples under the surface of an asteroid.

Even reaching the asteroid is a huge feat, let alone touching the surface. Ryugu is just under 3,000 feet (914 meters) wide and is around tens of millions of kilometers from the Earth.

Hayabusa Mission: A Japanese space probe tries to
The spacecraft arrived at the asteroid in June 2018 to conduct experiments. In April, he blew a small crater on the surface of the rock with the help of a plastic explosive filled device, in order to collect samples deeper into the asteroid.

Hayabusa 2 will leave Ryugu in December 2019 and return to Earth by the end of 2020 with its precious cargo of samples to be analyzed by scientists.

If he manages to return to Earth on time, this will be the first mission to report samples of a Class C asteroid, which has not yet been visited.

John Bridges, professor of planetary sciences at the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom, told CNN that the Hayabusa 2 mission is interesting because of Ryugu's class C status.

Class C is the most common variety of known asteroids.

Asteroids rovers of Japan Hayabusa send their first images

"One thing I'm sure is that it will produce unexpected results," said Bridges, who believes that the information from Ryugu's samples could make us rethink the early evolution of the solar system.

Under their desolate surface, it is thought that asteroids contain a wealth of information about the formation of the solar system billions of years ago.

Euan McKirdy from CNN contributed to this article.

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