While the rest of the world has been busy shedding a bitter tear over the early demise of Europe’s comet-sampling probe, the Japan Space Agency has been busy launching another mission to sample distant celestial bodies.
The Hayabusa 2 rocket is the follow-on mission to the largely successful Hayabusa, which returned to Earth with samples of an asteroid in 2010. Hayabusa 2 is meant to arrive at its target asteroid in 2018, survey for a year and a half, and return in 2020. The difference is, Hayabusa 2 is carrying a powerful explosive charge, which will be used to mine for samples from below the surface of the asteroid. [ Space]