Back in February, Japan’s second asteroid-exploring spacecraft touched down on the asteroid Ryugu to collect samples that it will bring back to Earth. Tonight, Hayabusa2 is making its final sample collection attempt, where it will try to collect material that was exposed by a crater it created with explosives back in April. It will once again try to quickly land, fire a tantalum bullet into the asteroid‘s surface and grab some of the dust that gets kicked up — all in about one second.
Assuming all goes well, the plan is to eventually deploy the Minerva II2 rover, and then begin its year-long journey back to Earth around November or December.
We won’t have video of the events from Ryugu to watch live, but there is a feed from mission control where you can see their reaction as it all goes down starting at 8:30 PM ET.
Update: JAXA has confirmed touchdown and that Hayabusa2 lifted off again, and confirmed the mission is a success.
[PPTD] Material from the press briefing yesterday (July 9) is now available on our website.
Contents: ・ The 2nd touchdown operationhttps://t.co/vsM0vl7xZ0 pic.twitter.com/PLoxPpuOPN
— HAYABUSA2@JAXA (@haya2e_jaxa) July 10, 2019
[PPTD] July 11 at 10:51 JST: Gate 5 check. The state of the spacecraft is normal and the touchdown sequence was performed as scheduled. Project Manager Tsuda has declared that the 2nd touchdown was a success!