Scientists from the US space agency NASA have been given advice by Japanese researchers on landing a probe on a rocky asteroid.
Ten members of NASA's asteroid probe team are visiting Japan. They met the Hayabusa2 project team at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, this week.
NASA is planning to land its OSIRIS-REx probe on the asteroid Bennu, which is more than 120 million kilometers from Earth, in July 2020.
The NASA scientists aim to collect rock and sand samples from the asteroid. But they say it will be difficult to find a safe landing site because Bennu is covered with more boulders than they expected.
The Hayabusa2 probe landed on the asteroid Ryugu in February in similar rocky conditions. The probe made a pinpoint landing in a target area with a diameter of about 6 meters.
The Hayabusa2 team gave the NASA researchers advice on how to make a precision-guided landing of a spacecraft.
University of Arizona Professor Dante Lauretta is the leader of the OSIRIS-REx mission.
Lauretta told a news conference on Thursday that his team was anxious to learn how the JAXA scientists solved the same problems, even though the landing methods of the two probes are different.
He said the lessons shared with the Hayabusa2 researchers were very important for the US team.