Japan's Hayabusa2 Spacecraft Leaves Asteroid Ryugu for Earth
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Tokyo, Nov. 13 (Jiji Press)--Japan's Hayabusa2 unmanned spacecraft left asteroid Ryugu on Wednesday after completing unprecedented missions, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, said.
If things go as planned, Hayabusa2 will return to Earth in late 2020 and drop a capsule believed to contain sand and other samples it collected from the asteroid.
Igniting its chemical engine at its home position about 20 kilometers above the surface of Ryugu, Hayabusa2 left the asteroid shortly after 10 a.m. Japan time (1 a.m. GMT), at a speed of 10 centimeters per second, according to JAXA.
Hayabusa2 was launched on an H-2A rocket in December 2014 and reached Ryugu, some 300 million kilometers from Earth, about three and a half years later.
The spacecraft landed on Ryugu twice to collect samples of the minor planet. Also, it successfully carried out unprecedented missions, including releasing small robotic explorers and creating an artificial crater on the asteroid using an explosive device called an impactor.
[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]