By ERIC TALMADGE, Associated Press Writer
Thu Sep 15, 7:44 AM ET
TOKYO - Bringing Japan's most complex space mission near its climax, a probe is within 12 miles of an asteroid almost 180 million miles from Earth in an unprecedented rendezvous designed to retrieve rocks from its surface.
The Hayabusa probe, launched in May 2003, will hover around the asteroid for about three months before making its brief landing to recover the samples in early November. The asteroid is located between Earth and Mars.
Jaxa website: http://www.jaxa.jp/index_e.html