Japan's space agency says the Hayabusa2 probe has begun its descent onto an asteroid. It is attempting a groundbreaking mission to collect rock samples from beneath the surface of an asteroid.
At around 10:46 a.m. Japan time, the Hayabusa2 started its descent from an altitude of 20,000 meters onto the asteroid Ryugu.
Hayabusa2 was launched in 2014 and travelled about 300 million kilometers, arriving above the asteroid last June.
The probe first touched down in February. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency believes it successfully collected rock samples from the asteroid's surface.
And In April, Hayabusa2 fired a metal object into Ryugu's surface and created a crater.
The space agency says Hayabusa2 will try to collect ejected rocks around the crater. It's the world's first-ever attempt to probe the inside of an asteroid.
Unlike the surface, underground material has not been affected by radiation and other factors.
Scientists believe the contents will shed more light on the origins of life and the formation of the solar system.
It's expected to take about one day before Hayabusa2 reaches the surface of the asteroid.