Japanese asteroid probe deploys micro-robot

A landing craft from the Japanese space probe Hayabusa is expected to land on Itokawa as part of the first ever mission to land on an asteroid.

The names of people from Liverpool are among about a million gathered globally which have been inscribed on an aluminium sheet on a landing robot.

It is thought the names will lie on the asteroid for about one billion years.

They were gathered by the Planetary Society of Japan as part of the mission, which aims to gather samples of space dust, reports BBC News.

According to Space.com, taking some 12 hours to descend closer and closer to the&to=http://english.pravda.ru/science/19/94/379/16037_asteroid.html' target=_blank>asteroid -- starting at roughly 4,600 feet (1.4 kilometers) altitude from the center of Itokawa -- the spacecraft reached a hovering distance over the space rock. The craft then released a small robot toward Itokawa’s surface. There was no immediate word on the condition of the robot after deployment.

After release of the robot, Hayabusa began propelling itself to a higher altitude above the asteroid.

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