Japan space probe returns after its asteroid mission

Japan space probe returns after its asteroid mission

Japan space probe returns after its asteroid mission
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A Japanese space probe is heading home from an asteroid 250 million km from Earth after collecting sub-surface samples that could help scientists seeking the origins of life.

Asteroids are believed to have formed at the dawn of the solar system and scientists say the asteroid may contain organic matter that may have contributed to life on Earth.

According to Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, if the return trip is completed successfully, that will be the first time samples from beneath an asteroid’s surface have been brought back to Earth.

The unmanned Hayabusa 2, named after a falcon, began leaving Ryugu last week, but it is still sending images back to Earth.

Those observations will be wrapped up on Monday or Tuesday before its main engine is activated for the year-long flight, JAXA said.

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Hayabusa 2 is scheduled to return to Earth by the end of 2020. After dropping off a capsule containing the samples, without landing, the probe itself will keep on going and fly away into space, finishing its six-year, 29 billion yen ($266 million) mission.

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