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Because of the roughness of the surface of Ryugu, the Hayabusa-2 science team has decided to delay the landing of the spacecraft on the asteroid from the end of this month until late January at the earliest.
JAXA project manager Yuichi Tsuda said they needed more time to prepare the landing as the latest data showed the asteroid surface was more rugged than expected.
“The mission … is to land without hitting rocks,” Tsuda said, adding this was a “most difficult” operation. “We had expected the surface would be smooth … but it seems there’s no flat area.”
This decision is a wise one. They will have the ability to land very precisely, and this will give them time to find the least risky spot. It does indicate however that the landing itself is going to be risky, which is probably why they want more time to gather data beforehand. Should the landing fail, the mission will essentially be over. This way they can maximize what they learn.