JAPAN AWAITS SPACECRAFT RETURN WITH ASTEROID SOIL SAMPLES

Dec 05, 2020

By Jeremy Logan

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Japan’s space agency says the Hayabusa2 spacecraft has successfully separated a capsule and sent it toward Earth to deliver samples from a distant asteroid that could provide clues to the origin of the solar system and life on our planet.

The capsule successfully detached Saturday afternoon from 136,700 miles away in a challenging operation that required precision control.

It’s now descending to land in a remote, sparsely populated area of Woomera, Australia, on Sunday.

The return with the world’s first asteroid subsurface samples comes weeks after a NASA spacecraft made a successful touch-and-go grab of surface samples from another asteroid.

And China this week said its lunar lander collected underground samples as space developing nations compete in their missions.

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