Jiji Press TOKYO (Jiji Press) — The unmanned space probe Hayabusa2 on Thursday aborted its attempt to drop a target marker to a location near a crater it blasted open on the asteroid Ryugu.
The operation was part of the preparations for a possible landing of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s probe near the artificial crater, located close to the asteroid’s equator.
Hayabusa2 automatically stopped its descent toward the asteroid when it reached an altitude of about 50 meters from the surface, JAXA said.
After the halt, the probe switched to an ascent without dropping the marker, the agency said, adding that the craft is in normal condition.
Under JAXA’s plan, Hayabusa2 was to descend to an altitude of about 10 meters to drop the marker.
The autonomous descent stopped after the probe detected abnormalities, according to JAXA.
In April, Hayabusa2 succeeded in creating the crater, about 10 meters in diameter, by firing a metal “bullet” from its equipment called impactor.