Japan Space Probe Drops Explosive on Asteroid to Make Crater

Japan Bombs Asteroid to Reveal Solar System's Secrets

Japan Bombs Asteroid to Reveal Solar System's Secrets

We have bombed an asteroid, finally exacting revenge for what the asteroids did to the dinosaurs.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, aka JAXA, has stated that its Hayabusa2 spacecraft has dropped an explosive onto an asteroid to make a crater and later collect the underground samples from there. (2 kilograms) hunk of copper late last night, along with a camera known as DCAM3 to record this "Small Carry-on Impactor" (SCI) operation. About 40 minutes later, explosives behind the plate detonated, sending the projectile hurtling toward Ryugu at 4,500 miles per hour (7,240 km/h).

As it does so it will release a camera slightly above the site of the detonation that should be able to capture images of the event.

The shot hit its target - and Hayabusa2 even got a picture of the impact.

Tonight, the Hayabusa-2 will engage in this "crater operation" (April 4 in the US and the morning of April 5 at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) headquarters), where it will shoot asteroid Ryugu with explosives to create an artificial crater, Space.com reported.

The probe will then depart the area, and the impactor is programmed to explode 40 minutes later, propelling the copper bottom towards Ryugu, where it should gouge a crater into the surface of the asteroid that sits 300 million kilometres from Earth.

DCAM3 was needed because the Hayabusa2 mothership had retreated behind Ryugu, to protect itself from the rain of debris generated by the impact.

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Indeed, Hayabusa2 has been extremely busy during its time at Ryugu.

Hayabusa2 also successfully touched down on a flat surface on Ryugu in February and collected surface dust and debris. (10 kg) lander onto the space rock's surface. If they can identify a suitable site, they will then land Hayabusa2 in or near the crater to collect samples.

The cutting-edge spacecraft will return to Earth in December with its extraordinary samples. The result, if all goes to plan, should be a crater that Hayabusa2's probes can sample from.

"The mission was a success", JAXA project manager Yuichi Tsuda said, beaming.

Hayabusa2 also still has one more little hopper on board, which it may deploy sometime this summer.

The mission's objective is to collect samples both from Ryugu's surface and its interior and return them to Earth for analyses that should yield information on the materials that existed in the early solar system and give clues about the formation and evolution of planets. It said that could help explain where the Earth's water came from.

Hayabusa2 isn't the first deep-space bomber. 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.

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