The Hayabusa2 Japanese investigation made a "perfect touchdown" on Thursday on a distant asteroid, collecting samples from below the surface in an unprecedented mission that could explain the origin of the solar system.
"We have gathered a part of the history of the solar system," project manager Yuichi Tsuda said at an hourly press conference that was delighted after the landing was confirmed.
"We have never collected material beneath the surface of a celestial body far from the Moon," he added.
"We did it and we succeeded in the first world."
A refrigerator-sized investigation made the second landing on the asteroid around 10:30 am (0130GMT), with officials from the Japan Space Exploration Agency (JAXA) giving applause and cheers as preliminary data showed that the touchdown had been successful.
Confirmation of the landing came only after Hayabusa2 raised back from the asteroid and continued communication with the control room.
Research director Takashi Kubota told reporters that the touchdown operation was "more than perfect."
And Tsuda, grinning, said he rated "1000 points out of 100."
"The probe moves perfectly and the team's preparation work is perfect," he said.
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Thursday's brief landing was the second time Hayabusa2 landed on a remote Ryugu asteroid, some 300 million kilometers from Earth.
Ryugu, which means "Palace of Dragons" in Japanese, refers to a castle on the ocean floor in an ancient Japanese story.
The complex multi-year Hayabusa2 mission also involves sending inventors and robots to the surface.
Touchdown on Thursday was intended to collect pure ingredients from the surface of the asteroid that could provide insight into what the solar system was like at the time of its birth, about 4.6 billion years ago.
In order to obtain the important ingredients, in April "crashers" were fired from Hayabusa2 towards Ryugu in a risky process that created a crater on the asteroid's surface and stirred up material that had never been exposed to the atmosphere.
Hayabusa2's first touchdown was in February, when it landed briefly at Ryugu and fired a bullet at the surface to poke dust for collection, before exploding back into its holding position.
The second goal requires special preparation because any problem can mean that the probe will lose valuable material that has been collected during its first landing.
Also read: Touchdown! Japanese spacecraft lands a new robot on an asteroid
& # 39; The world is watching & # 39;
A photo of the crater taken by the Hayabusa2 camera after the April explosion showed that the surface parts of the asteroid were covered with "clearly different" materials from the rest of the surface, mission manager Makoto Yoshikawa told reporters before the latest touchdown.
Scientists hope the investigation will collect unknown materials believed to be "ejecta" from the explosion after landing briefly in an area about 20 meters from the center of the crater.
"It would be safer to say that the very interesting material is near the crater," Tsuda said before landing.
Touchdown is the last major part of the Hayabusa2 mission, and when the probe returns to Earth next year to send samples, scientists hope to learn more about the history of the solar system and even the origin of life on Earth.
The Hayabusa2 mission has attracted international attention, with Queen's guitarist and astrophysicist Brian May sending a video to the investigation team ahead of the landing.
"The world is watching. We love you, take care of Hayabusa2," said the musician to the team.
Hayabusa2 is the successor to JAXA's first asteroid explorer, Hayabusa – Japanese for eagle, which was returned with dust samples from small asteroids in the form of potatoes in 2010.
It was praised as a scientific victory despite various setbacks during a seven-year epic odyssey.
The Hayabusa2 mission was launched in December 2014, and has a price tag of around 30 billion yen ($ 270 million).