A Japanese space probe apparently succeeded in landing on an asteroid and collecting surface samples Saturday in an unprecedented mission to bring the extraterrestrial material back to Earth for analysis, Japan's space agency said.
The Hayabusa appeared to have touched down for a few seconds on the asteroid - floating 290 million-kilometers from Earth - to collect powder from its surface before lifting off again to transmit data to mission controllers, according to spokesman Kiyotaka Yashiro of Japan's space agency, JAXA.
"The initial movements and operations look very good," Yashiro said. "The process of sampling also seems to have gone very well.
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