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Japanese spacecraft snags second sample from asteroid

11 July 2019 Stephen Clark

Scientists celebrated another success with Japan’s Hayabusa 2 spacecraft late Wednesday (U.S. time), when the robot explorer accomplished a second pinpoint touch-and-go landing on asteroid Ryugu, this time to collect a sample of pristine dust and rock excavated by an explosive impactor earlier this year.

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Hayabusa 2 cleared for second touchdown on asteroid

5 July 2019 Stephen Clark

Ground teams have approved plans for Japan’s Hayabusa 2 sample return mission to briefly land on asteroid Ryugu for the second time on 11 July, aiming for a targeted touch-and-go to gather material exposed by an explosive impactor released by the robot explorer in April.

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Japanese probe lands on asteroid to capture sample

24 February 2019 Stephen Clark

Japan’s Hayabusa 2 spacecraft briefly landed on an asteroid Thursday more than 200 million miles from Earth and fired a bullet to scoop up a rocky sample, successfully accomplishing one of the mission’s most challenging manoeuvres before returning the asteroid specimen to scientists on the ground in December 2020.

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Ariane 5 launches two satellites on 7-year voyage to Mercury

21 October 2018 William Harwood

A powerful European Ariane 5 rocket blasted off from French Guiana late Friday and boosted a pair of satellites into space for a seven-year plunge into the inner solar system, a voyage requiring seven planetary flybys to slow down enough in the sun’s gravitational clutches to slip into orbit around hellish Mercury.

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Asteroid missions on track to reach their destinations in 2018

18 January 2018 Stephen Clark

Pioneering spacecraft from NASA and the Japanese space agency promise to reveal two unexplored asteroids later this year, officials said Wednesday, beginning surveys that will culminate in daring descents to capture samples for return to Earth, where eager scientists await a hands-on look at the specimens.