Japanese space probe Hayabusa2 is making a descent toward the asteroid Ryugu in a new mission to create an artificial crater for a study of the celestial body's interior. The asteroid is located 340 million kilometers from Earth.
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, says the probe began its descent toward Ryugu from an altitude of 20,000 meters at around 1:00 p.m. on Thursday, Japan time.
According to the plan, Hayabusa2 will release a device called the "impactor" shortly before 11 a.m. on Friday when it is 500 meters from the asteroid.
Forty minutes later, the "impactor" will explode and shoot a metal object into the asteroid's surface at 2 kilometers per second to create an artificial crater.
JAXA is planning to have Hayabusa2 attempt a second landing on Ryugu at a later date to collect rock samples from the crater.
The probe made its first landing on the asteroid in February.
JAXA officials have said the probe is believed to have collected rock samples during that time on the asteroid.