In December 2014, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) launched a spacecraft called Hayabusa2. Hayabusa2 will also be deploying an "impactor" that is supposed to explode over the asteroid's surface to shoot a two-kilo copper object to blast a small crater into the surface.
The rock is known as a relic and belongs to a primitive type of asteroid formerly known as 162173 Ryugu. It was taken on Ryugu's surface during a hop.
The two "MINERVA" landers, which the probe deployed on the asteroid, have already made contact with the mother ship and sent back home some fantastic pictures as well.
Scientists have been working to find a suitable landing space on the asteroid's rough surface since the orbiter arrived.
Japan now has two rovers on an asteroid 280 million kilometres from Earth. "This is just a real charm of deep space exploration", said Takashi Kubota, a spokesman for the space agency. JAXA said both the two Minerva-II-1 rovers are functioning nominally and transmitting data and images. This instrument will dig a hole on the asteroid and collect the sample from below Ryugu's surface and bring it to Earth.
How can studying asteroids help solar system science?
Once the spacecraft reaches the surface, it will fire a bullet at great speed into Ryugu, with the resulting blasted particles being collected by a catcher.
There have been some anxious moments when the verbal exchange link with the bots became misplaced quickly after separation."Conversation with MINERVA-II1 has for the time being stopped".
Japan's space agency has managed to surpass ESA's achievement of landing a craft on an asteroid by landing two rovers on another.
The rovers hop and float across the asteroid-thanks to its low gravity-to capture information including photos and the asteroid's temperature.
It will also release a lander called Mascot and a large rover called Minerva-II-2 next year.