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Japan's Hayabusa2 probe aborts descent toward its artificial crater on Ryugu

An artist's drawing of the Hayabusa2 space probe landing on the asteroid Ryugu. (Photo courtesy of Akihiro Ikeshita)

TOKYO -- Japan's Hayabusa2 space probe has aborted its preparatory work to descend near an artificial crater it had created on the asteroid Ryugu, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) announced here on May 16.

The probe was supposed to descend to 10 meters above the asteroid to observe the details of the surface and drop a target marker on it. However, the Hayabusa2 detected an abnormity when descending and moved away when it was 50 meters above the asteroid.

No malfunctions have been reported on the body of the probe and JAXA is investigating the cause of the failure.

Hayabusa2 succeeded in its first landing on the asteroid in February. JAXA planned to judge whether a second landing near the crater would be possible by early June. The probe will return to its regular position 20 kilometers above the asteroid on May 17 while JAXA will reconsider its schedule.

(Japanese original by Tomohiro Ikeda, Science & Environment News Department)

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