Japan's Hayabusa2 Probe Nears Ryugu Asteroid After Flying 2Bn Miles in 3.5 Years

© Wikipedia / Go MiyazakiHayabusa 2
Hayabusa 2 - Sputnik International
TOKYO (Sputnik) - Japan's Hayabusa2 space probe has approached the asteroid Ryugu for a sample return mission after flying two billion miles over more than a 3.5-year period, Japanese space agency JAXA has reported.

The space probe was launched in early December 2014. It has now approached Ryugu at a 12-mile distance and will remain near the asteroid for a year and a half, studying it and attempting to take samples that will be taken to Earth.

Hayabusa2 will make its first attempt at getting a sample this fall.

READ MORE: Japan's Aerospace Agency Developing Radar Detecting Space Micro-Debris

Ryugu, approximately 1-kilometer (0.6-miles) in diameter, is a potentially dangerous near-Earth object. It orbits the Sun at 0.96–1.41 astronomical units every 474 days.

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