March 3, 2012

SPACE: Japan Eyes New Asteroid-Sample Mission:

Space engineers in Japan are scoping out an ambitious follow-up to the country’s Hayabusa mission, which snagged samples from the asteroid Itokawa and returned them to Earth in 2010.

The successor spacecraft, known as Hayabusa 2, would carry out an aggressive study of another asteroid. The probe would drop off two landers, blast the asteroid with an impactor and send more samples back to Earth for close-up inspection.

Scientifically interesting — and also very useful if you’re thinking about asteroid mining down the line.

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