The Japanese space probe Hayabusa-2 dropped a special capsule with soil samples taken from the surface of the distant asteroid Ryugu onto Earth.
After about 12 hours, the capsule will land in Australia, where an expedition of 73 Japanese specialists was sent in November, TASS reports.
After the probe drops the capsule, many more discoveries await it. It uses the planet’s gravity to enter a new trajectory. As a result, in July 2026, the device will approach the asteroid 2001 CC21.
This celestial body with a diameter of about 700 meters makes a complete revolution around the Sun in 383 days, and around its axis in five hours. As shown by ground-based observations, in terms of chemical composition, it belongs to the so-called L-type. Objects of this type have never been visited by spacecraft.
Without entering orbit around 2001 CC21, the craft will maneuver and head back to Earth. Experts note that there will be no problems with this return, even if the approach to the asteroid for some reason does not take place.
The probe then uses our planet’s gravity for two more trajectory corrections (in December 2027 and June 2028). If all goes well, the mission will reach asteroid 1998 KY26 in July 2031.