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Last Updated: Saturday, 12 November 2005, 11:49 GMT
Liverpudlians 'land on asteroid'
Artist's impression of Hayabusa
A robot probe from Hayabusa is due to land on Itokawa
The names of 100 Liverpudlians are due to be deposited on an asteroid 180 million miles from earth on Saturday.

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.

Aborted landing

Dr Benny Peiser, an asteroid expert at Liverpool John Moores University, organised the campaign to collect names from Liverpool in 2002.

He said the mission was a step forward in understanding comets and asteroids.

It is hoped this will help scientists learn more about the raw materials which made up the early Solar System.

The probe was launched in May 2003, but a previous attempt to land on the asteroid was aborted at the last minute earlier in November after the robot failed to identify where on the asteroid it would land.

It is 10cms tall and designed to bounce across the surface, collecting temperature readings and images.

Hayabusa is due to return to Earth in June 2007.

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