Friday, 19 April, 2019

Japanese space probe drops 'impactor' on asteroid Ryugu

Time For Giant Leap: US Wants Man On Moon Again In 5 Years Watch: Japan's Hayabusa-2 Is 'Bombing' Asteroid Ryugu to Make a Crater
Cary Marshall | 07 April, 2019, 10:44

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

The Japanese spacecraft Hayabusa-2 on Friday dropped an explosive on a remote asteroid for the first time to form a crater with a view to collect samples of its surface and analyze their composition, which could provide clues to the origin of the Universe. 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).

Hayabusa2 moved smartly away from the area to avoid being damaged by debris from the explosion or colliding with Ryugu while also releasing a camera to capture images of the event. This image was captured by Hayabusa2's optical navigation camera from about 500 meters above Ryugu. The mission is the riskiest for Hayabusa2, as it has to immediately get away so it won't get hit by flying shards from the blast.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) said its Hayabusa2 spacecraft detonated the copper explosive, also known as the Small Carry-on Inspector (SCI), on the Ryugu asteroid on Friday.

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.

The Japanese spacecraft released the impactor from 1,640ft (500m), then retreated behind Ryugu as the bullet creates a cloud of debris.

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Indeed, Hayabusa2 has been extremely busy during its time at Ryugu. (10 kg) lander onto the space rock's surface.

That sample is scheduled to come down under parachute in December 2020, in a special return capsule. "It is highly likely to have made a crater".

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. The team running the mission even hopes they'll be able to grab a sample of material from this location, to add to the surface sample the probe collected in February. Japan's space agency JAXA said its Hayabusa2 spacecraft released an explosive onto the asteroid to make a crater on its surface and collect underground samples to find possible clues to the origin of the solar system.

Hayabusa 2 isn't collecting pieces of Ryugu to keep them in deep space. In a similar mission in 2005, NASA blasted the surface of a comet but never recovered the fragments.

A European probe called Hera will aid in this assessment, gauging up close how the impact affects the Didymos system.

Mike Wall's book about the search for alien life, "Out There" (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated byKarl Tate), is out now.

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