Japanese Hayabusa 2 spacecraft deployed its target market next to an artificial crater at asteroid Ryugu which it had created by setting off an explosive charge in April to help its probe touchdown at precise location and collect second sample batch before returning to earth. This maneuver will however be undertaken only after its mission managers approve a second touch and go landing as it could be risky and scientists feel that the spacecraft has already collected sufficient materials to rule the mission as a success. Hayabusa 2 had hovered 9 meters above surface of Ryugu on 30 May to drop a white target marker over a location which had been targeted by an explosive impactor sent from the spacecraft itself during early April. The mission designers had placed a “carry-on impactor on the spacecraft to expose internal sediments of the asteroid that were hidden below its surface and protected from radiation and other weathering effects.
The spacecraft then gathered samples from the surface of Ryugu during February. Though the Hayabusa 2 has been designed to collect samples from three locations on the asteroid, scientists feel that samples from two locations are sufficient enough. During an earlier target marker dropping mission in mid-May the craft had aborted its approach autonomously at an altitude of 160 feet when its laser altimeter made a wrong distance measurement. Ground controllers therefore planned the descent carefully a second time and made a successfully deployment on 30 May. Two close sweeps over the crater last month yielded high resolution pictures of the region for ground teams which they could analyze before attempting a second sample collection exercise. Ryugu measures 900 feet in diameter and it is rich in carbon and other building blocks. The Hayabusa 2 built by Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency reached Ryugu in June 2018 and will leave the region by November-December.