Japan's space agency JAXA plans to bring its Hayabusa2 probe closer to the asteroid Ryugu to get a closer look at a crater it made, to decide how to study the asteroid's interior.
JAXA scientists plan to determine the exact shape and depth of the crater and the size of nearby rocks to create a detailed topographical map.
They hope to land Hayabusa2 in the crater to have it collect rock samples.
If the crater is deemed too small for such a landing, they plan to try to have the probe touch down nearby to collect rocks that have flown out of it.
If large rocks near the crater make landing difficult, JAXA is to give up on collecting samples. The team would then use an infrared camera to examine rocks in the crater from a distance to find out their chemical makeup.
JAXA says it hopes to decide on a plan as soon as possible, since the window for landing the probe on Ryugu closes in July.
Scientists believe the interior of the asteroid is largely protected from cosmic weathering, and retains conditions that existed when it was created about 4.6 billion years ago as the solar system was being formed.
They say analyzing rock samples from the interior could help advance their knowledge of the origin of the solar system and life.