Hayabusa 2: back to the asteroid belt

Hayabusa2The Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) launches the Hayabusa-2 unmanned space probe, intended to study and sample asteroid 162173 Ryugu in 2018. Mission plans call for the ion-engine-powered Hayabusa-2 to remain at Ryugu for a year before returning to Earth with its sample. Hayabusa-2 also carries a European-built lander and an explosive penetrator to expose the asteroid’s subsurface material (using the same principle as the Deep Impact mission to Comet Tempel 1 in 2005.

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