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Science

Asteroid landing a triumph for Japan's space industry

Private sector to boost collaboration with budget-strapped state agency

A computer graphic of the Hayabusa2 touching down on the Ryugu asteroid. Its rugged surface required the craft to hit a precise target for landing. (Image courtesy of JAXA via Reuters)

TOKYO -- The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's pinpoint landing of an asteroid probe was a technical achievement made possible only by working with the private sector to keep up with better-funded counterparts in the U.S. and China.

The Hayabusa2 finished its 300-million-km journey this month by touching down on a patch with a radius of just 3 meters on the Ryugu asteroid, which is 800 times farther from Earth than the moon. The landing area was shrunk from 50 meters in radius due to the asteroid's rugged surface. It is not uncommon for lunar and Mars landings to be off by more than a kilometer.

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