Japan’s space agency confirmed on Thursday that its unmanned spacecraft “Hayabusa2” has sent a small capsule, containing a 6-inch wide rover, to hover over the surface of the Ryugu asteroid.
The MINERVAII2 capsule was deployed about a kilometre from the asteroid’s surface.
The space agency, Jaxa, said it would orbit Ryugu eight times in the next five days before dropping the rover onto the surface of the asteroid.
Hayabusa2 is on a mission to find clues about the origin of life and the solar system.
It has already collected samples from underneath the surface of an asteroid.
The craft departed from the Tanegashima Space Centre in southern Japan in December 2014.
The Hayabusa2 is expected to return to Earth at the end of 2020 with samples, the agency said.
The spacecraft first landed on Ryugu in February and initially collected samples just from the surface.