The Japanese space probe “Hayabusa 2” is to drop a capsule with samples of the Ryugu asteroid on Saturday as it flies past Earth. It contains 4.6 billion years old material from the earliest times of the solar system. The only 40 centimeter capsule is said to float on a parachute and land between 6.47 pm and 6.57 pm (CET) in a desert near Woomera in southern Australia.
The spectacular move marks the end of the mission that began in December 2014 with the launch of the “Hayabusa 2” from Japan. The probe itself is set to embark on its next asteroid mission after being dropped. The researchers hope to trace the origins of the solar system by analyzing the Ryugu samples.