Japanese space agency JAXA BLOWS UP asteroid with a BOMB

Pablo Tucker
April 9, 2019

Hayabusa 2's next mission will be to return to the detonation site once the dust has settled. Further data from the spacecraft indicate that it was not hit by any debris and is operating normally as it moves to its home station 20 kilometers from the asteroid.

At about 11 a.m. on April 5, the impactor used to make the crater separated from the probe, followed by the detachable "DCAM3" camera. JAXA reports that the copper explosive weighed in at 4.4 pounds (2 kilograms) which made it the size of a baseball.

A copper plate on the bottom of the ball was expected to turn into a ball as it fell from the spacecraft and slam into Ryugu at 2 km (1.2 miles) per second, the AP said. JAXA later confirmed the impact from images transmitted from a camera left behind by the spacecraft which showed the impactor being released and fine particles later spraying dozens of meters (yards) out from a spot on the asteroid.

In February, Hayabusa 2 touched down briefly on the asteroid after a journey of more than three-and-a-half-years and fired a bullet into the surface to puff up dust for collection, before blasting back to its holding position. After Hayabusa-2 deployed the explosive charge, the space probe moved to a safe distance from the blast, JAXA announced on Friday. However, scientists will only be able to get this package from the asteroid named Ryugu after an undersea palace from Japanese fairy tales by late 2020, as Hayabusa2 is set to leave space only by the end of this year and travel 300 million kilometres back to Earth.

The mission will be the latest in a series of explorations carried out by the Japanese space agency's Hayabusa2 probe and could reveal more about the origin of life on Earth.

Members of The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, seen on screen, celebrate, as Hayabusa2 spacecraft safely evacuated and remained intact after the blast, in Sagamihara, near Tokyo, Friday, April 5, 2019. 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).

Last September JAXA landed two hopping robots onto Ryugu, also as part of the Hayabusa2 mission - making Japan the first country in the world to land rovers on an asteroid.

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. For now, it has provided a picture of the detached explosive, taken with Hayabusa2's onboard camera.

The cutting-edge spacecraft will return to Earth in December with its extraordinary samples.

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