Watch: Japan's Hayabusa2 Spacecraft Grab New Sample From Asteroid

Since the beginning of its presence in orbit around the Ryugu asteroid in July 2018, Hayabusa2, the sample-collecting spacecraft has gone to considerable lengths. The spacecraft has already delivered robots and rovers right to the asteroid.

While the sample collection itself happened earlier in July, the footage was realised only on Friday. A camera caught the moment when the spacecraft attempted to grab a second sample from the asteroid, with the video showing the shadow of Hayabusa2, which comes closer to the asteroid's surface and then gradually disappears in space right after the spacecraft finishes the manoeuvre.

However, a blog post on Hayabusa2’s official website revealed the hidden dangers behind the second attempt of sample collection. The critical factor was that the spacecraft was operating so far from Earth that it left no room for failure for Hayabusa2’s mission control. Factors like unfriendly terrain and the technical difficulty of the manoeuvre itself also complicated the situation. The team decided to try their luck anyway, explaining that all of those risks were outweighed by the potential scientific riches that awaited in case of a successful collection of a second sample.

Hayabusa2, which is operated by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), was launched in December 2014, and is expected to stay on the asteroid for a period of 18 months before its scheduled return to Earth in 2020. The Hayabusa-2 mission has reportedly cost the agency roughly $260 million, according to AFP.

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