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Hayabusa 2 rehearsal for asteroid landing scrapped

TOKYO -- The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) announced on Sept. 12 that it suspended the dry run of its Hayabusa 2 space probe's landing on the Ryugu asteroid because altitude measurements became impossible when the spacecraft came down to 600 meters from the surface of the celestial body.

    The problem was apparently due to the pitch black surface of the carbon-rich asteroid that made laser distance measurements difficult. JAXA says the Hayabusa 2 is in good condition, and the agency is considering changing landing procedures such as adjusting the configuration of measuring devices.

    Despite the suspension, the altitude of 600 meters the explorer has descended to the asteroid is the closest ever recorded. JAXA had planned to bring down the probe to 30 meters and make detailed observations of a landing spot.

    (Japanese original by Etsuko Nagayama, Opinion Group)

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