TOKYO (AP) — 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.

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