• The GCC Financial Forum 2019
Japan delays touchdown of Hayabusa 2 probe

Japan delays touchdown of Hayabusa 2 probe

A Japanese probe sent to examine an asteroid in order to shed light on the origins of the solar system will now land on the rock several months later than planned, officials said yesterday. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) told reporters the Hayabusa2 probe is now expected to touch down on the Ryugu asteroid in “late January” at the earliest, rather than at the end of this month as initially expected. JAXA project manager Yuichi Tsuda said they needed more time to prepare the landing as the latest data showed the asteroid surface was more rugged than expected. “The mission... is to land without hitting rocks,” Tsuda said, adding this was a “most difficult” operation.

“We had expected the surface would be smooth... but it seems there’s no flat area.” Scientists are already receiving data from other machines deployed on the surface of the asteroid. Last week, JAXA successfully landed a new 10-kilogramme (22-pound) observation robot known as MASCOT -- “Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout.” Loaded with sensors, the robot can take images at multiple wavelengths, investigate minerals with a microscope, gauge surface temperatures and measure magnetic fields.

Ten days earlier, a pair of MINERVA-II micro-rovers were dropped onto the asteroid -- marking the first time that moving, robotic observation devices have been successfully deployed. These rovers are taking advantage of Ryugu’s low gravity to jump around on the surface -- travelling as far as 15 metres (49 feet) and staying above the surface for as long as 15 minutes -- to survey the asteroid’s physical features with cameras and sensors. Hayabusa2, about the size of a large fridge and equipped with solar panels, is the successor to JAXA’s first asteroid explorer, Hayabusa, which is Japanese for falcon.

That probe returned from a smaller, potato-shaped, asteroid with dust samples in 2010, despite various setbacks, during an epic seven-year odyssey hailed as a scientific triumph. The Hayabusa2 mission, which costs around 30 billion yen ($260 million), was launched in December 2014 and will return to Earth with its samples in 2020. Photos of Ryugu -- which means “Dragon Palace” in Japanese, a castle at the bottom of the ocean in an ancient Japanese tale -- show an asteroid shaped a bit like a spinning top with a rough surface. By collecting samples from the surface, scientists hope to answer some fundamental questions about life and the universe, including whether elements from space helped give rise to life on Earth.




Khloe breaks up with Tristan

Khloe breaks up with Tristan

American reality star Khloe Kardashian has called it quits with NBA player Tristan Thompson, just 10 months after the two welcomed their daughter. E! News confirmed recently that the couple has split up. This comes right around the sam

Britain to strip IS teen of citizenship

Britain to strip IS teen of citizenship

Britain will strip citizenship from a UK teenager who joined the Islamic State group in Syria but now wants to return home with her newborn baby, a lawyer for her family said Tuesday. Shamima Begum’s fate has stirred controversy

Venezuela on alert

Venezuela on alert

Venezuela’s military said Tuesday it was on alert at its frontiers following threats by US President Donald Trump and suspended air and sea links with the island of Curacao ahead of a planned aid shipment. Opposition leader and s


Khloe breaks up with Tristan

Khloe breaks up with Tristan

American reality star Khloe Kardashian has called it quits with NBA player Tristan Thompson, just 10 months after the two welcomed their daughter. E! News confirmed recently that the couple has split up. This comes right around the sam

Palladium tops $1,500

Palladium tops $1,500

Precious metal palladium yesterday reached above $1,500 per ounce for the first time in trading thanks to supply deficit worries, according to analysts. Palladium hit $1,504.52 per ounce from $1,480.15 late on Tuesday. It later yesterd

ABG reports profit of US $129 million

ABG reports profit of US $129 million

Al Baraka Banking Group (ABG) reported increases in income, with a 4 per cent increase in net operating income, a 5pc rise in total net income, as net income attributable of shareholders remained unchanged compared to the year 2017. Th