Hayabusa2 To Begin Descent Toward Asteroid

Hayabusa2 to begin descent toward asteroid

The Japanese space probe Hayabusa2 will soon begin its descent toward the asteroid Ryugu for a landing.

Hayabusa2 was launched in 2014 and arrived above Ryugu in June last year. The asteroid is about 300 million kilometers from Earth.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, planned to attempt a landing last October, but postponed it because the surface of the asteroid was rockier than expected.

The agency found a flat area near the equator of the asteroid that is free of rocks larger than 60 centimeters.

The probe will gradually lower its altitude just after 8 AM on Thursday, Japan time, or 23:00 UTC on Wednesday, and is scheduled to land 24 hours later.

The probe's controllers originally planned a 100-meter wide target. But they will now be aiming for a landing site that is six meters wide due to the bumpy surface of Ryugu.

JAXA's mission manager Makoto Yoshikawa says they are nervous because anything can happen, but they are putting their trust into what they have spent so much time preparing for.