A Japanese space explorer has arrived at an asteroid after a 3½-year journey and will try to get samples to bring back to Earth.
The Japan Space Exploration Agency said Wednesday the unmanned Hayabusa2 spacecraft had arrived at an asteroid about 280 million kilometers (170 million miles) from Earth. Over the next year and a half, the spacecraft will attempt three brief touch-and-go landings to collect samples.
If the retrieval and the return journey are successful, the asteroid material could provide clues to the origin of the solar system and life on Earth.
The spacecraft was launched in December 2014 and is due to return at the end of 2020.