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Japan’s Spacecraft Shoots Asteroid with Bullet to Collect Samples (VIDEO)

Japan's Hayabusa-2 spacecraft approached from its orbit of a Ryugu asteroid 200 million miles away to complete its mission.

The spacecraft briefly stopped, descended to the asteroid’s surface, and fired a bullet at the ground. The bullet kicked up a bunch of dust and small rocks so Hayabusa collected some of the material to bring back for analysis by scientists.

READ MORE: UK Scientists Prepare for Worst as Huge Asteroid Surges Towards Earth

The collection was captured by cameras on Hayabusa, and Japanese space agency JAXA has released a video of the event to the public.

The entire process took five minutes and was controlled by onboard computers. Ryugu is too far away for this process to be controlled from the Earth, so the spacecraft had to handle landing, firing, and sample collection all by itself. The spacecraft is preparing for a second extraction over the next few months. Hayabusa will repeat the touchdown procedure again while triggering a mini-explosion on the surface first in order to collect samples from beneath the surface.

After the extractions, Hayabusa will leave the asteroid toward the end of the year, arriving back on Earth by late 2020, at which time scientists will have the opportunity to study the collected samples.

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