Artist illustration showing Hayabusa 2 gathering a sample of material released from Ryugu’s surface. The craft will fire a bullet into the surface. Blast material will float upward in the low-gravity of the asteroid and travel into the horn, the “proboscis” sticking out from the probe, and then collected in a canister. It all goes down this afternoon. Akihiro Ikeshita / JAXA
The Japanese Hayabusa-2 spacecraft will touch down on and grab a sample of asteroid Ryugu today. You can watch it live here starting at 3:45 p.m. Central Time this afternoon (Feb. 21). The whole sequence, from touchdown and sample retrieval to ascending back into orbit, will take about 2½ hours. For updates in case plans change, check the Hayabusa Twitter site.
Hayabusa 2 touchdown — live streaming starts 3:45 p.m. CST
This will be the second time Japan has attempted to sample an asteroid. On Nov. 19, 2005, during the first Hayabusa mission, the spacecraft attempted its first touchdown on asteroid Itokawa. After contact, the probe was supposed to fire a small projectile at the surface; dust and bits of rock kicked up by the impact would be collected in a canister for the flight home. But on ...