European Probe Lands On Ryugu Asteroid

European probe lands on Ryugu asteroid

Space agencies in Europe say a probe deployed from Japan's Hayabusa2 spacecraft has successfully landed on the asteroid Ryugu.

The touchdown comes after the lander was released on Wednesday from Hayabusa2 when it was about 51 meters above the asteroid.

The probe robot, called Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout, or MASCOT, is about the size of a microwave oven. It was jointly developed by German and French space centers.

The probe can operate for about 16 hours on a lithium battery. It's designed to investigate the composition of the minerals on Ryugu's surface. It's expected to find out whether the rocks contain water. It is also set to measure any magnetic fields.

Scientists hope the data will give them a clue to uncover how the asteroid was formed.

Two other robots were released from the mother spacecraft and landed on Ryugu on September 21st.

Japan's space agency JAXA also plans to conduct the first landing of Hayabusa2 itself on Ryugu later this month.

Its biggest mission is to collect samples from rocks and carry them back to Earth.