Japan space drops explosive on asteroid to make crater

Mindy Sparks
April 9, 2019

If the Small Carry-on Impactor (SCI) created a big enough artificial crater on Asteroid Ryugu, the Hayabusa-2 space probe will come back to the impact site to collect soil samples from the space rock's underground, as the rocks there should've been protected by the harsh conditions of space.

Meanwhile, the information, scientists hope to get after studying the asteroid's debris, might give them insight into not only the asteroid but also our planet and solar system.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency says it's highly likely that probe Hayabusa2 has succeeded in the world's first mission of creating a crater on an asteroid to study its interior.

That probe returned with dust samples from a smaller, potato-shaped asteroid in 2010, despite various setbacks during its epic seven-year odyssey and was hailed as a scientific triumph. In a 2005 "deep impact" mission to a comet, the United States space agency Nasa observed fragments after blasting the surface but did not collect them.

To avoid getting hit by flying debris, Hayabusa2 maneuvered itself away from the impact zone, according to the BBC. The experiment began on the morning of April 5, Japanese time, and images of the event captured by a detachable camera were later relayed back over the some 300 million kilometers to Earth.

In February it successfully fired a "bullet" into the asteroid to disturb material from its exterior, which then floated from its surface due to the weak gravitational field.

The Hayabusa2 mission, with a price tag of around 30 billion yen ($270 million), was launched in December 2014 and is scheduled to return to Earth with its samples in 2020. This is the riskiest mission that Hayabusa2 went on and luckily, it was successful. "'But we still have more missions to achieve and it's too early for us to celebrate with 'banzai".

This image released by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) shows an explosive dropped from Hayabusa2 spacecraft to make a crater on the asteroid Ryugu Friday, April 5, 2019.

Jaxa confirmed Hayabusa2 left safely and remained intact after the blast.

A live webcast of the mission room on the southern island of Tanegashima showed Jaxa staff applauding as the probe successfully completed each stage of the most critical phase of its mission so far.

Hayabusa2 will confirm whether a crater is made and what the conditions of the surface are from April 22, and will start collecting samples of rocks and sand as early as May after confirming the safety.

The probe is loaded with four surface landers, an array of cameras and even an explosive device that will dig out subsurface rock samples.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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