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A Japanese Space Explorer Arrives At An Asteroid

The robotic explorer will spend about two months looking for suitable landing places on the uneven surface

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This computer graphics image provided by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) shows an asteroid and asteroid explorer Hayabusa2.
This computer graphics image provided by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) shows an asteroid and asteroid explorer Hayabusa2. VOA

A Japanese space explorer arrived at an asteroid Wednesday after a 3 1/2-year journey and now begins its real work of trying to blow a crater to collect samples to eventually bring back to Earth.

The unmanned Hayabusa2 spacecraft reached its base of operations about 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the asteroid and some 280 million kilometers (170 million miles) from Earth, the Japan Space Exploration Agency said.

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 mission is challenging. The robotic explorer will spend about two months looking for suitable landing places on the uneven surface. Because of the high surface temperature, it will stay for only a few seconds each time it lands.

The asteroid, named Ryugu after an undersea palace in a Japanese folktale, is about 900 meters (3,000 feet) in diameter. In photos released by JAXA, the Japanese space agency, it appears more cube-shaped than round. A number of large craters can be seen, which Project Manager Yuichi Tsuda said in an online post makes the selection of landing points “both interesting and difficult.”

The first touchdown is planned for September or October. Before the final touchdown scheduled for April-May, Hayabusa2 will send out a squat cylinder that will detonate above the asteroid, shooting a 2-kilogram (4.4-pound) copper projectile into it at high speed to make a crater.

Hayabusa2 will hide on the other side of the asteroid to protect itself during the operation and wait another two to three weeks to make sure any debris that could damage the explorer has cleared. It will then attempt to land at or near the crater to collect underground material that was blown out of the crater, in addition to the surface material from the earlier touchdowns.

astronaut
astronaut. Pixabay

The spacecraft will also deploy three rovers that don’t have wheels but can hop around on the surface of the asteroid to conduct probes. Hayabusa2 will also send a French-German-made lander to study the surface with four observation devices.

Asteroids, which orbit the sun but are much smaller than planets, are among the oldest objects in the solar system. As such, they may help explain how Earth evolved, including the formation of oceans and the start of life.

Hayabusa2 was launched in December 2014 and is due to return to Earth at the end of 2020. An earlier Hayabusa mission from 2003 to 2010 collected samples from a different type of asteroid and took three years longer than planned after a series of technical glitches, including a fuel leak and a loss of contact for seven weeks.

Also read: Japanese Climber Dies on his Eighth Attempt to Climb Mt. Everest

NASA also has an ongoing asteroid mission. Its Osiris-Rex spacecraft is expected to reach the asteroid Bennu later this year and return with samples in 2023. (IANS)

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Japanese Economy Officially in Recession Due to the Pandemic

Japan’s gross domestic product shrank by an annual 3.4% in the first three months of 2020

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Recession
A man looks at an electronic stock board showing Japan's Nikkei 225 index at a securities firm in Tokyo, May 11, 2020. VOA

Japan’s economy fell into recession for the first time since 2015 as the coronavirus pandemic brought economic activity at home and abroad to a screeching halt.

Figures released Monday by the Cabinet Office show Japan’s gross domestic product shrank by an annual 3.4% in the first three months of 2020, following a contraction in the last quarter of 2019, putting the country in a technical recession with two consecutive quarters of contraction.

The COVID-19 outbreak aggravated an already challenging situation for the world’s third-largest economy, which was dealing with the impact of a sales tax hike and a powerful typhoon. The pandemic led to official quarantines across the globe as governments tried to blunt the spread of the virus.

lockdown led to Recession
The pandemic led to official quarantines and lockdowns across the globe as governments had to take steps for the safety of it’s citizens. Pixabay

Read More: India Extends Lockdown Till May End

Japan has been mildly affected by the coronavirus compared to the rest of the world, with more than 16,000 confirmed infections, including over 700 deaths.  But Prime Minister Shinzo Abe imposed a state of emergency for Tokyo and six other prefectures last month out of fear the outbreak would overwhelm Japan’s healthcare system, then briefly expanded it for the entire country.

The government has announced a $990-billion stimulus bill to blunt the economic downturn caused by the pandemic, including $55 billion in direct payments to households and small businesses. (VOA)

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Impossible to Host the Olympics Until Coronavirus is Contained, Says PM of Japan

Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan says that hosting Olympics even next is impossible if the pandemic is not contained till then

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olympics Japan Prime Minister
Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe believes that it will be impossible to host Olympics in 2021 if the pandemic is not contained. Wikimedia Commons

Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stated it will be impossible to host the Olympics even next year if the ongoing coronavirus pandemic cannot be contained till then. The 2020 edition of the multi-national event was pushed back to 2021 in wake of COVID-19 crisis that has hit the entire world.

Answering a question related to Olympics, Abe said it is important for all athletes and spectators to feel safe and for that to happen, the virus will have to be contained.

“We’ve been saying the Olympic and Paralympic Games must be held in a complete form, in that athletes and spectators can all participate safely. It would be impossible to hold the Games in such a complete form unless the coronavirus pandemic is contained,” Abe was quoted as saying by CNN.

Tokyo olympics
Olympics 2020 which were supposed to take place in Tokyo have already been postponed to 2021 due to the Coronavirus outbreak. VOA

Earlier, Tokyo Olympics chief had warned the event will have to be scrapped in case of further delay.

“In that case, the Olympics will be scrapped,” Yoshiro Mori told Nikkan Sports when quizzed about pushing the Games further if needed.

Tokyo Olympics was supposed to be held in July-August this year but had to to postponed due to COVID-19 crisis. The International Olympics Committee (IOC) set the new dates as July 23 till August 8 next year.

Read More: Actor Irrfan Khan Laid to Rest at Versova Burial Ground, Mumbai

The head of Japan Medical Association (JMA) had earlier said that hosting the event in the summer of 2021 remains difficult till the time an “effective vaccine’ is developed.

“Unless an effective vaccine is developed I think it will be difficult to hold the Olympics next year,” JMA President Yoshitake Yokokura told reporters in Tokyo on Tuesday. “I’m not saying at this point that they shouldn’t be held. The outbreak is not only confined to Japan … it’s a worldwide issue.” (IANS)

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Apple Plans To Buy LCD Assets Worth $200 Million From Japan Display

The sale to both Apple and Sharp was reportedly delayed in the wake of new coronavirus pandemic

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Apple
According to a Nikkei Asian Review report, Japan Display (JDI) has been in negotiations with "Apple and Sharp to sell its Hakusan liquid crystal display plant" owing to "poor sales of iPhone panels". Pixabay

Apple is reportedly buying $200 million worth of assets like LCD equipment from troubled panel maker Japan Display, the media reported on Wednesday.

According to a Nikkei Asian Review report, Japan Display (JDI) has been in negotiations with “Apple and Sharp to sell its Hakusan liquid crystal display plant” owing to “poor sales of iPhone panels”.

The sale to both Apple and Sharp was reportedly delayed in the wake of new coronavirus pandemic.

“JDI decided to sell LCD production equipment to Apple first and real estate to Sharp later,” the report mentioned.

By offloading Hakusan, JDI would concentrate smartphone LCD panel production at the Mobara plant in Chiba Prefecture.

Apple
Apple is reportedly buying $200 million worth of assets like LCD equipment from troubled panel maker Japan Display, the media reported on Wednesday. Pixabay

JDI started its operation on April 1, 2012. As of March 2014, JDI was one of the major suppliers of displays for Apple’s iPhone.
It was also a major display supplier of Nintendo Switch along with Sharp Corporation until 2017.

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A newly-created entity INCJ, Ltd. had become the major shareholder of Japan Display with 25,29 per cent of total shareholdings since September 21, 2018 as a result of a corporate split of the old the Innovation Network Corporation of Japan (INCJ). (IANS)