Risky Space Mission: Japan Plans to Bomb Distant Asteroid to Create Artificial Crater For Samples in April 2019

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Japan  agency plans to make a crater on a distant asteroid to collected surface fragments that will help to determine asteroid’s history.

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“It will be very challenging”

Japan’s agency announced its Hayabusa2 spacecraft will follow up last month’s touchdown on a distant asteroid with another risky mission — to drop an explosive to make a crater and collect underground samples to get possible clues to the origin of the solar system.

Hayabusa2 successfully touched down on the boulder-rich asteroid Feb. 22, when it also collected some surface fragments.

japan-space-asteroid-crater-photo

Source: JAXA via AP

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency said Monday that Hayabusa2 is to drop a copper impactor on the asteroid April 5 to collect samples from deeper underground.

The mission will require the spacecraft to move quickly to the other side of the asteroid so it won’t get hit by flying shards from the blast, JAXA project engineer Takanao Saeki said. “It will be very challenging.”

The asteroid, named Ryugu after an undersea palace in a Japanese folktale, is about 300 million kilometers (180 million miles) from Earth.

japan-space-asteroid-crater-photo

Source: AP

 

While moving away, Hayabusa2 will leave a camera to capture the outcome. The spacecraft is to wait a few weeks before returning to the area above the crater for observations.

The mission will allow JAXA scientists to analyze details of the crater to determine the history of the asteroid, said Koji Wada, who is in charge of the project.

A day before the mission, Hayabusa2 will start descending to the asteroid from its home position of 20 kilometers (12 miles) away. It will drop a cone-shaped piece of equipment containing explosives that will blast off a copper plate on its bottom. That will turn into a ball and slam into the asteroid at 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) per second.

JAXA projects it will create a crater of up to 10 meters (32 feet) in diameter with a depth of 1 meter (3.3 feet) if the underground structure is soft. A crater created on a rock-like structure would be smaller.


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Risky Space Mission: Japan Plans to Bomb Distant Asteroid to Create Artificial Crater and Get Samples in April 2019
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Risky Space Mission: Japan Plans to Bomb Distant Asteroid to Create Artificial Crater and Get Samples in April 2019
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Japan space agency plans to make a crater on a distant asteroid to collected surface fragments that will help to determine asteroid's history. Follow Nexter.org to know the details.
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