After deploying a trio of small rovers to explore asteroid Ryugu, Japan’s Hayabusa2 mothership is poised to descend to the asteroid’s surface itself late this month to begin collecting samples for return to Earth. Launched in December 2014, Hayabusa2—whose shadow on the surface of the 0.6-mi-long (1-km) asteroid is visible in the photo below—arrived in late June. The second Hayabusa mission follows a troubled but ultimately successful attempt by the Japan Aerospace ...

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