Asteroid probe 6 months away from its destination
NHK -- Dec 15
Japan's space agency says its asteroid probe Hayabusa2 is on course to reach its target between Earth and Mars in about 6 months.

JAXA told reporters on Thursday that the probe is flying at around 24 kilometers per second, and has travelled 2.7 billion kilometers so far, with less than 6 million kilometers left to go.

Hayabusa2 was launched in 2014 to land on the asteroid Ryugu and collect rock samples from its surface. Scientists believe such samples could provide clues about the origin of life.

JAXA said that from January, the craft will fire up its ion engines and, if all goes according to plan, get within 20 kilometers of the asteroid -- close enough to enter its orbit -- in June or July.

In the next 18 months, JAXA plans to have Hayabusa2 land on the asteroid 3 times to collect rock samples.

Researchers know the potato-shaped asteroid is about 900 meters in diameter, but very little about its topography, surface temperature or rotation axis.

Hayabusa2 will have only about a month to figure out the best landing sites to maximize its chances of collecting water and organic matter samples without hitting an obstacle.

News source: NHK
Dec 18
Police believe an explosion at a Sapporo building that left 42 people injured on Sunday was caused by gas leaking from more than 100 deodorizer spray cans, intended for disposal, at a real estate agency. (Japan Times)
Dec 18
Japanese water is clean and readily available, as evidenced by drinkable tap water and a nearly 100 percent penetration rate. (Japan Times)
Dec 18
PayPay, a mobile payments company backed by SoftBank Group Corp., Yahoo Japan Corp. and India’s largest digital-payments company Paytm, said it’s updating its app to strengthen security after multiple complaints from users of wrongful charges. (Bloomberg)
Dec 18
Toyama Prefectural Police are investigating what is believed to have been a hit-and-run incident after the corpse of a man was found inside a smashed display window at a store in Toyama City, reports Sankei Sports (Dec. 15). (
Dec 17
More than 40 people were injured on Sunday when an explosion caused a fire at a commercial building housing a pub in Sapporo City on Japan's northern main island of Hokkaido. Police suspect a gas leak may be the cause. (NHK)
Dec 17
A famous hot spa resort is offering an online map showing "onsen" spots available for tattooed tourists traveling to the region for next year's Rugby World Cup in Japan. (Kyodo)
Dec 17
Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga has revealed that the government plans to open about 100 support centers for foreign workers across Japan. (NHK)
Dec 16
Rino Sashihara, a leading Japanese idol singer, will leave the all-girl musical group HKT48, an affiliate of the country's entertainment giant AKB48, next year, she said Saturday. (Kyodo)
Dec 16
The education ministry plans to include ¥1.52 trillion in its budget for fiscal 2019 to cover personnel costs for teachers at public elementary and junior high schools, it has been learned. (Japan Times)
Dec 15
Japan's central government is pushing ahead with a controversial plan to relocate an American military base within the southern prefecture of Okinawa. They've started full-scale land reclamation work despite strong local opposition. (NHK)