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Japan says space probe landed on asteroid to get soil sample

TOKYO — Japan’s space agency says data transmitted from the Hayabusa2 spacecraft indicated it successfully landed on a distant asteroid to complete its mission of collecting underground samples in hopes of finding clues to the origin of the solar system.

Hayabusa2 had created itself a landing crater earlier. Thursday’s mission was to land inside that crater to collect scattered samples that scientists believe contain more valuable scientific data.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, says it has confirmed data showing Hayabusa2 touched down and rose safely. JAXA is analyzing further details.

The asteroid, named Ryugu after an undersea dragon palace in a Japanese folktale, is about 300 million kilometers (180 million miles) from Earth.

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