Hayabusa2 Starts Descent toward Asteroid Ryugu

Science Society Technology

Tokyo, Feb. 21 (Jiji Press)--Japan's Hayabusa2 unmanned space probe started descending toward the asteroid Ryugu on Thursday afternoon, after a delay of some five hours to enable the spacecraft's condition to be checked, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, said.

Hayabusa2 is expected to touch down on the asteroid, located some 340 million kilometers from Earth, around 8 a.m. on Friday (11 p.m. Thursday GMT) as scheduled.

A team operating Hayabusa2 conducted final checks from early Thursday morning for its descent toward the asteroid, according to JAXA.

But the team was unable to start the letdown process shortly past 8 a.m. as planned, since it took time to confirm that there were no problems with the spacecraft's condition and ground control systems.

Hayabusa2 began the descent at 1:15 p.m. from its home position 20 kilometers above Ryugu, reducing its altitude at a speed of 90 centimeters per second until it reaches a point 5 kilometers above the asteroid, faster than the initially planned 40 centimeters to make up for the delay.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press