Japan's space agency said Wednesday its Hayabusa2 space probe had departed from an asteroid where it had landed to collect samples, and will now travel some 800 million kilometers to deliver them to Earth in November or December of next year.

The probe's homeward journey, which had previously been scheduled to start by the end of this year, was brought forward after it successfully accomplished its planned tasks.

It departed from the Ryugu asteroid at 10:05 a.m. Japan time on Wednesday morning, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency said.