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2019-01-02. Japan’s asteroid mission faces ‘breathtaking’ touchdown.

posted Jan 5, 2019, 12:27 PM by Alan Gould

By Dennis Normile, Science Magazine. [https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/01/japans-asteroid-mission-faces-breathtaking-touchdown] For GSS A Changing Cosmos chapter 7. Excerpt: "By looking at the details of every asteroid ever studied, we had expected to find at least some wide flat area suitable for a landing," says Yuichi Tsuda, Hayabusa2's project manager at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS), which is headquartered in Sagamihara. Instead, when the spacecraft reached Ryugu in June 2018—at 290 million kilometers from Earth—it found a cragged, cratered, boulder-strewn surface that makes landing a daunting challenge. The first sampling touchdown, scheduled for October, was postponed until at least the end of this month, and at a symposium here on 21 and 22 December, ISAS engineers presented an audacious new plan to make a pinpoint landing between closely spaced boulders....