Japan to Land Robot on Asteroid 186 Million Miles Away

The spacecraft has been en route for three-and-a-half years.

A mile-wide asteroid will pass Earth on Saturday. (Getty)
Getty Images/Science Photo Library RF

If all goes according to plan, Japan will land a unmanned robot on a C-type asteroid 186.4 million miles from Earth this fall, according to a CNN story. A successful mission would be history’s first “sample return mission to a C-type asteroid,” as stated by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, a record for which the Japanese agency is jostling against NASA.

The Hayabusa-2 spacecraft in question has two landers scheduled to drop onto the asteroid in September and October, respectively. Ultimately, the spacecraft will initiate a small explosive so it can descend and collect samples. Scientists believe that organic materials inside the C-type may have significant implications for solar system research.

The spacecraft left Earth three-and-a-half years ago, and has been orbiting the C-type since June. Its return to Earth is scheduled for 2020.

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