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A Japanese probe sent to examine an asteroid will now land several months later than planned, officials have confirmed.
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) says the high-profile Hayabusa2 is expected to touch down on Ryugu at least three months behind schedule.
January - Opportunity - End - Month - Time-frame
Specifically, they cite 'late January' as the earliest possible opportunity, rather than the end of this month - which was the original time-frame.
JAXA project manager Yuichi Tsuda said they needed more time to prepare the landing as data showed the asteroid surface was more rugged than expected.
Mission - Rocks - Tsuda - Operation
'The mission is to land without hitting rocks,' Tsuda said, adding this was a 'most difficult' operation.
'We had expected the surface would be smooth... but it seems there's no flat area.'
Scientists - Data - Machines - Surface - Asteroid
Scientists are already receiving data from other machines deployed on the surface of the asteroid.
Last week, JAXA successfully landed a new 22lbs (10kg) observation robot known as MASCOT - 'Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout - on the space rock.
Sensors - Robot - Images - Wavelengths - Minerals
Loaded with sensors, the robot can take images at multiple wavelengths, investigate minerals with a microscope, gauge surface temperatures and measure magnetic fields.
Ten days earlier, a pair of MINERVA-II micro-rovers were dropped onto the asteroid -- marking the first time...
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