A Japanese spacecraft has touched down on a distant asteroid on a mission to collect material that could provide clues to the origin of the solar system.

Workers at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency control center applauded Friday as a signal sent from space indicated the Hayabusa2 spacecraft had touched down.

During the touchdown, Hayabusa2 is programmed to extend a pipe and shoot a pinball-like object into the asteroid to blow up material from beneath the surface. If that succeeds, the craft would then collect samples to eventually be sent back to Earth. Three such touchdowns are planned.

In this photo provided by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), staff of the Hayabusa2 Project watch monitors for a safety check at the control room of the JAXA Institute of Space and Astronautical Science in Sagamihara, near Tokyo, Thursday, Feb. (170 million miles) from Earth. JAXA said Thursday that Hayabusa2 began its approach at 1:15 p.m. (ISAS/JAXA via AP)
In this photo provided by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), staff of the Hayabusa2 Project watch monitors for a safety check at the control room of the JAXA Institute of Space and Astronautical Science in Sagamihara, near Tokyo, Thursday, Feb. (170 million miles) from Earth. JAXA said Thursday that Hayabusa2 began its approach at 1:15 p.m. (ISAS/JAXA via AP)

The asteroid, named Ryugu after an undersea palace in a Japanese folktale, is about 900 meters (3,000 feet) in diameter and 280 million kilometers (170 million miles) from Earth.

This Oct. 25, 2018, image provided by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) shows asteroid Ryugu. (170 million miles) from Earth. The JAXA said Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019, that Hayabusa2 began its approach at 1:15 p.m. Hayabusa2's shadow is seen at center right over Ryugu. (JAXA via AP)
This Oct. 25, 2018, image provided by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) shows asteroid Ryugu. (170 million miles) from Earth. The JAXA said Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019, that Hayabusa2 began its approach at 1:15 p.m. Hayabusa2’s shadow is seen at center right over Ryugu. (JAXA via AP)