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After taking flight towards a diamond-shaped asteroid in 2014, Japan's Hayabusa 2 probe has finally reached its desired place more than three years later. After reaching its target, the probe started mapping the rock known as Ryugu ("Dragon Place" in Japanese) before sending two of the rovers to the surface last September.
As a result, the rovers sent back some breathtaking images of the asteroid and some close-up shots of the surface. The probe now plans to land itself on the surface and the landing is slated for February 22nd where it will be collecting samples, announced Japan's space agency JAXA.
Previously, the landing of the probe was pushed from October to January, because JAXA struggled to find a smooth surface for the landing on the surface of the asteroid. "The landing point is decided and how we're going to land is confirmed, so we want to do our best to achieve this without making mistakes," said JAXA project manager Yuichi Tsuda.
Ryugu's chemical composition is made of nickel, iron, cobalt, nitrogen, water, hydrogen, and ammonia. This makes it a prime target for the scientists as it would unlock mysteries of the universe. The probe is expected to return by December 2020.
Back in September, Papan landed two rovers on the asteroid marking it as the first time a moving, robotic rover has been sent on an asteroid surface for observation, according to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).