• A Japanese space probe named after a falcon, Hayabusa 2, has touched down on an asteroid more than 300 million km from Earth on a mission to seek clues about the origins of life.
  • The spacecraft’s landing on the asteroid Ryugu, just 900 metres in diameter, came after an initial attempt in October was delayed because it was difficult to pick a landing spot on the asteroid’s rocky surface.
  • Hayabusa 2 fired a small projectile into the surface of Ryugu to collect particles scientists hope the spacecraft will bring back to Earth for analysis.
  • It is the second Japanese spacecraft to land on an asteroid after Hayabusa touched down on a near-Earth asteroid named Itokawa in 2005.
  • It was the first to bring asteroid dust back to Earth, although not as much as hoped.
  • Asteroids are believed to have formed at the dawn of the solar system and scientists say Ryugu may contain organic matter that may have contributed to life on Earth.
  • JAXA’s plan is for Hayabusa 2 to lift off Ryugu and touch back down up to three times. It blasted off in December 2014 and is scheduled to return to Earth at the end of 2020.