Spacecraft creates crater on asteroid with goal of unlocking solar system's origins

Takashi Kubota research director of Institute of Space and Astornautical Science Takanao Saeki Hayabusa2 Project team engineer Yuichi Tsuda team manager Fuyuto Terui Hayabusa2 Project team member and Makoto Yoshikawa team mission manager

Takashi Kubota research director of Institute of Space and Astornautical Science Takanao Saeki Hayabusa2 Project team engineer Yuichi Tsuda team manager Fuyuto Terui Hayabusa2 Project team member and Makoto Yoshikawa team mission manager

The Hayabusa 2 probe released the device - called a small carry-on impact - on Friday as it hovered 500 metres above the asteroid Ryugu, according to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (Jaxa). It said that could help explain where the Earth's water came from.

The risky part about Hayabusa2's mission was that the spacecraft needed to quickly move out of the way after dropping the explosive designed to create a crater on the asteroid's surface.

If all goes according to plan, JAXA plans to send Hayabusa2 back to the asteroid later, when dust and debris from the explosion settles, the AP said.

Takashi Kubota, an engineering researcher, said the probe's use of explosives and its "acrobatic" evasive manoeuvres were "unprecedented" and he hoped the mission would give scientists a rare peek inside an asteroid.

Japan's space agency said its Hayabusa2 spacecraft successfully dropped an explosive created to make a crater on an asteroid and collect its underground samples to find possible clues to the origin of the solar system. In a similar mission in 2005, NASA blasted the surface of a comet but never recovered the fragments.

In February, Hayabusa2 briefly landed on Ryugu and fired a tantalum pellet into the surface that likely knocked about 10 grams of rock fragments into a collection horn.

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Hayabusa2 is scheduled to leave the asteroid at the end of the year and return to Earth with underground samples by the end of 2020. It was meant to carve out a 10 metre-wide hole in the asteroid after it was sacked toward Ryugu's surface at up to 2 kilometres per second (4,500 miles per hour).

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

John Bridges, a professor of planetary science at the UK's University of Leicester, told CNN last month that the Hayabusa 2 mission is interesting because of Ryugu's C-class status.

JAXA confirms Hayabusa 2 has now dropped the bomb on Ryugu - the bomb, in this case, is the 5.5-pound (2.5kilogramsm) Small Carry-on Impactor (SCI). "'But we still have more missions to achieve and it's too early for us to celebrate with 'banzai". For now, it has provided a picture of the detached explosive, taken with Hayabusa2's onboard camera.

The aim of the crater on Ryugu is to throw up "fresh" material from under the asteroid's surface that could shed light on the early days of the solar system.

Over the next two weeks or so, the main Hayabusa2 spacecraft will slowly creep out of hiding and return to its "home position" about 12.4 miles (20 kilometers) above Ryugu's surface.

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