Japan's space agency announced its Hayabusa2 spacecraft had released an explosive on an asteroid to make a crater on its surface and collect underground samples to find possible clues to the origin of the solar system.
JAXA project manager Yuichi Tsuda said the camera that separated from the probe captured the explosion and the photo showed material blown up from the Ryugu surface, indicating the mass had hit its mark.
The Japanese space agency just blasted an asteroid with an explosive copper bomb in hopes of learning more about the solar system. Friday's 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.
Earlier today, Hayabusa2 descended to 500 meters above the asteroid and released the SCI. "The SCI separation and evacuation sequence were a success", mission team members wrote on Twitter around 2 a.m. EDT (0600 GMT and 3 p.m. Japan time) today (April 5).
As for Hayabusa-2, it's expected to make its return to Earth sometime between November and December, with landing set for late-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).
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The goal of the explosion was to create an artificial crater on Ryugu.
Jaxa confirmed Hayabusa2 left safely and remained intact after the blast. If they can identify a suitable site, they will then land Hayabusa2 in or near the crater to collect samples.
Because the impact of the copper mass could send up floating debris from Ryugu that could smack into the space probe, Hayabusa 2 will ascend to an altitude of about 20 km over a two-week period.
Hayabusa2 observes the surface of the asteroid with its camera and sensing equipment but has also dispatched two tiny MINERVA-II rover robots as well as the French-German robot MASCOT to help surface observation.
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