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People's Daily Online

Japan launches 2nd asteroid sample return mission Hayabusa2

People's Daily Online

(Xinhua) 13:09, December 03, 2014

TOKYO, Dec. 3 -- Japan on Wednesday launched its second-generation asteroid explorer Hayabusa2, kicking off the country's second asteroid sample return mission.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) announced Wednesday that they launched Hayabusa2 aboard the H-2A Launch Vehicle No. 26 (H-2A F26) at 1:22: 04 p.m. (GMT 4:22:04 a.m.) on Wednesday from Tanegashima Space Center in Japan's southwestern Kagoshima prefecture.

Asteroid explorer Hayabusa2 is the successor to Hayabusa (MUSES- C). Its mission is to explore one of the C-type asteroids called 1999 JU3 in the universe, retrieve materials and bring them to Earth, said JAXA in a pamphlet on the Hayabusa2 mission.

First observed in 1999, the nearly spherical asteroid 1999 JU3 is about 900 meters in diameter.

The rock of C-type asteroids is considered to contain organic matter and water. Scientists expect the mission to shed light on the origins of the solar system and life on Earth.

'Hayabusa2 explores the mystery of the origin of the sea water and the life on the earth in addition to the mystery of the earth' s formation,' said JAXA.

'It should arrive at the C-type asteroid in mid 2018, staying around there for one and half years before leaving the asteroid at the end of 2019 and returning to Earth around the end of 2020,' said JAXA.

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