Japanese spacecraft touches down on asteroid to get samples

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Staff of the Hayabusa2 Project watch monitors for a safety check at the control room of the JAXA Institute of Space and Astronautical Science in Sagamihara, near Tokyo, on Feb. 21, 2019. (ISAS/JAXA via AP)
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This Oct. 25, 2018, image provided by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) shows asteroid Ryugu. (JAXA via AP)
Updated 22 February 2019
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Japanese spacecraft touches down on asteroid to get samples

  • Probe to fire a “bullet” into the asteroid’s surface to stir up surface matter, which the probe will then collect for analysis back on Earth
  • Scientists hope the samples may provide answers to some fundamental questions about life and the universe

TOKYO: A Japanese spacecraft touched down on a distant asteroid Friday on a mission to collect material that could provide clues to the origin of the solar system and life on Earth.
Workers at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) control center applauded Friday as a signal sent from space indicated the Hayabusa2 spacecraft had touched down.
During the touchdown, Hayabusa2 is programmed to extend a pipe and shoot a pinball-like object into the asteroid to blow up material from beneath the surface. If that succeeds, the craft would then collect samples to eventually be sent back to Earth. Three such touchdowns are planned.
Japanese Education Minister Masahiko Shibayama said the space agency had concluded from its data after the first touchdown that the steps to collect samples were performed successfully.
JAXA, as the Japanese space agency is known, has likened the touchdown attempts to trying to land on a baseball mound from the spacecraft’s operating location of 20 kilometers (12 miles) above the asteroid.

Scientists hope the samples may provide answers to some fundamental questions about life and the universe, including whether elements from space helped give rise to life on Earth.

The asteroid, named Ryugu after an undersea palace in a Japanese folktale, is about 900 meters (3,000 feet) in diameter and 280 million kilometers (170 million miles) from Earth. It is thought to contain relatively large amounts of organic matter and water from some 4.6 billion years ago when the solar system was born.

 

 


UN team to investigate ‘horrific’ massacre in central Mali

Updated 26 March 2019
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UN team to investigate ‘horrific’ massacre in central Mali

  • UN human rights office spokeswoman says the massacre in Ogossagou, in Mali’s Mopti region, mostly targeted people from the ethnic Fulani, or Peuhl, community

GENEVA: The United Nations is deploying crime-scene investigators, human rights officers and a child protection expert to central Mali to investigate intercommunal violence over the weekend that killed more than 150 people, one-third of them children.
Spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani of the UN human rights office says the massacre in Ogossagou, in Mali’s Mopti region, mostly targeted people from the ethnic Fulani, or Peuhl, community.
She said Tuesday the “horrific attacks” signal a “spike in killings” in a cycle of violence in the region that has caused 600 deaths and displaced thousands since last March.
Shamdasani said the attacks appeared to be motivated by an effort to eliminate violent Islamic extremist groups active in Mali, but that “millions of people are being painted as violent extremists simply because they are Muslim.”