Japan’s space agency said data transmitted from the Hayabusa2 spacecraft indicated it successfully landed on a distant asteroid Thursday and completed its historic mission of collecting underground samples that scientists hope will provide clues to the origin of the solar system.
Hayabusa2 had created itself a landing crater in April by dropping a copper impactor. Thursday’s mission was to land inside that crater and collect underground samples that scientists believe contain more valuable data.
Hayabusa2 is the first to successfully collect underground soil samples from an asteroid and comes ahead of a similar mission planned by the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration team at another asteroid.
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, said it has confirmed data showing Hayabusa2 touched down and rose safely after collecting the samples as planned.
Takashi Kubota, a Hayabusa2 project member at JAXA, was beaming when he showed up at an unexpectedly early news conference to announce the result.
The moment the success was announced in the command center, everyone stood up, cheered and applauded, some of them making victory signs.
“It was a success, a big success,” Kubota said. “We achieved success in all scheduled procedures.”
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