Japan’s Hayabusa-2 probe, which successfully completed its second touchdown operation on asteroid Ryugu – 290 million km from Earth – on July 11, has sent back clips of the landing.
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s probe, which is travelling with the aim of collecting samples of material to shed light on the history of the solar system, was launched in December 2014 and completed its first successful landing in February.
The new animation, which plays at 10 times the actual speed of touchdown, was shot on its monitor camera, Cam-H, which is pointed past the craft’s sampling mechanism. The animation shows the probe touching down, and then lifting off Ryugu.
As soon as Hayabusa-2 touched down on Ryugu, the spacecraft fired a bullet into the asteroid, blasting up debris. Material from Ryugu made its way into Hayabusa-2’s sampler horn, after which the craft lifted back up, leaving the asteroid, explained NewsNation.
The Japanese craft is expected to leave the asteroid and return home later this year. The asteroid Ryugu is named after an undersea dragon palace from a Japanese folktale.