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2019-02-22. Update: Japanese spacecraft safely lands and leaves asteroid surface in effort to collect samples.

posted Feb 24, 2019, 8:59 PM by Alan Gould   [ updated Mar 2, 2019, 3:07 PM ]
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: *Update, 22 February, 6:33 a.m.: Japan's Hayabusa2 spacecraft successfully executed a challenging touchdown on asteroid Ryugu today at about 7:30 a.m. Japan time. Officials from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency confirmed that during an autonomous operation Hayabusa2 landed momentarily within a target site just 6 meters wide and fired a steel pellet into the surface of the asteroid in hopes of scattering fragments into a collection horn. Mission planners hoped to collect 10 grams of material, but the amount won't be known for sure until the sample container is returned to Earth in 2020. Hayabusa2 could make two more touchdowns to gather additional samples. [4 January story previewing its historic touchdown plans:] YONAGO, JAPAN—Japan's Hayabusa mission made history in 2010 for bringing back to Earth the first samples ever collected on an asteroid. But the 7-year, 4-billion-kilometer odyssey was marked by degraded solar panels, innumerable mechanical failures, and a fuel explosion that knocked the spacecraft into a tumble and cut communications with ground control for 2 months. When planning its encore, Hayabusa2, Japan's scientists and engineers were determined to avoid such drama. They made components more robust, enhanced communications capabilities, and thoroughly tested new technologies....  See also [https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/in-search-of-lifes-origins-japans-hayabusa-2-spacecraft-lands-on-an-asteroid/] In Search of Life’s Origins, Japan’s Hayabusa 2 Spacecraft Lands on an Asteroid. ...and 2019-02-26. A Target Before Shooting Ryugu. By Nola Taylor Redd, Eos/AGU. [https://eos.org/articles/a-target-before-shooting-ryugu]