Japan probe Hayabusa2 touches down on distant asteroid


In what may sound like a scene from a sci-fi film, a Japanese probe is about to land on an asteroid 340 million kilometers from Earth, take aim and fire.

During its brief contact with the asteroid, the spacecraft should have attempted to collect rock samples kicked up by the bullet, the Planetary Society explained.

According to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), the probe began its descent to the asteroid from an altitude of 20,000 meters above at about 0400 GMT, with the descent being delayed for a few hours while the final approach to the asteroid's surface was rechecked.

The asteroid is about 900 metres (3,000 feet) in diameter.

It is scheduled to make three touch-and-go landings.

Communication with Hayabusa2 is cut off at times because its antennas are not always pointed towards Earth and it could take several more days to confirm the bullet was actually fired to allow the collection of samples.

Embattled Duke rallies from 23 down to beat Louisville
Duke made 13 shots from 3-point range Saturday night at Virginia but missed its first five long-range shots against Louisville . The comeback was the program's second-biggest in school history, second only to a 31-point comeback against Tulane in 1950.

Jussie Smollett: police declare Empire actor suspect in his own alleged attack
The actor also did not have a valid driver license and provided false information to law enforcement, according to WFLD-TV . Several reports, citing unnamed sources, suggested police are investigating whether he helped set-up his own attack.

Price, release date and other key facts to know — Samsung's Galaxy Fold
As an added bonus, all of these plans come bundled with a bonus pair of wireless Galaxy Buds if you sign up before March 7. Two years from now? The tech giant said the Fold can open up to three active apps simultaneously.

If the probe successfully collects the samples, it would be the second such exploit following one by its predecessor Hayabusa in 2005.

The spacecraft's landing on the asteroid Ryugu, just 900 meters (3,000 feet) in diameter, came after an initial attempt in October was delayed because it was hard to pick a landing spot on the asteroid's rocky surface.

Originally, Hayabusa2 was scheduled to touch down last October.

The brief landing will be challenging, because of the uneven and boulder-covered surface.

"A target marker" dropped on the asteroid beforehand will guide the probe.

The Ryugu asteroid is thought to contain clues about the origins of life.