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Hayabusa 2 probe to try to land on asteroid Ryugu on Feb. 22: JAXA

An artist drawing of the Hayabusa 2 space probe landing on the asteroid Ryugu. (Photo courtesy of Akihiro Ikeshita)

TOKYO -- The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) will try to land its Hayabusa 2 probe on the asteroid Ryugu on Feb. 22, the agency said on Feb. 6.

In its landing mission, Hayabusa 2 will use target markers it released earlier on the celestial object, and attempt to collect rocks and sand from the surface and bring them back to Earth.

JAXA postponed Hayabusa 2's scheduled landing in October last year due to the unexpectedly rocky surface conditions of the asteroid.

The Hayabusa 2 probe was launched on an H-IIA rocket from the Tanegashima Space Center in Kagoshima Prefecture, southern Japan, on Dec. 3, 2014, and is expected to leave the asteroid sometime around the end of 2019 and return to Earth in late 2020.

A red square indicates the spot where the Hayabusa 2 probe is expected to land on the asteroid Ryugu. (Photo courtesy of JAXA, the University of Tokyo and other entities)

(Mainichi)

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