JAXA’s Hayabusa-2 Detonated Explosive Charge On Asteroid Ryugu

Christopher Davidson
April 9, 2019

The so-called "small carry-on impactor", a cone-shaped device capped with a copper bottom, will emerge from Hayabusa2 on Friday, after the probe has arrived just 500 metres above the asteroid Ryugu.

JAXA then collected samples, which have been exposed by the demolition of the surface, to help explain the origins of the solar system.

Friday's mission was incredibly risky for Hayabusa2 as it had to immediately move to hide on the other side the asteroid in order to shield itself from any flying debris from the explosion.

If all goes according to plan, JAXA plans to send Hayabusa2 back to the asteroid later, when dust and debris from the explosion settles, the AP said.

The country's space agency has launched a key part of a unique mission, created to get underground samples from an asteroid, floating in space 300 million kilometres away from our planet. In a 2005 "deep impact" mission to a comet, the USA space agency Nasa observed fragments after blasting the surface but did not collect them.

As Hayabusa 2 made a swift exit to avoid a collision with the asteroid or sustain damage from the blast, it released a camera above the site that should be able to capture images of the event. Hayabusa-2 reached its destination in June 2018, after a long journey, as it took off from Earth in December 2014.

To accomplish this feat, Hayabusa-2 descended from orbit above the surface of the asteroid, where it had been hovering since approaching the asteroid on February 22, briefly touching down on it and firing a projectile made of the metal tantalum at the surface.

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Ryugu, which is just under 3,000 ft (914 metres) wide, is now 195 million miles from Earth.

The probe released a device called an "impactor" above the asteroid Ryugu shortly before 11 a.m. on Friday, Japan Time. "But we still have more missions to achieve and it's too early for us to celebrate".

Jaxa confirmed Hayabusa2 left safely and remained intact after the blast.

On Thursday, JAXA announced the start of the "small carry-on impactor" (SCI) phase of the Hayabusa-2 mission, CNET noted.

If everything goes as planned, Hayabusa-2 would be the first mission to bring home samples from a C-Class asteroid, a type of space rock that has never been so closely explored.

Hayabusa Two is studying soil and rock samples using several pieces of equipment.

"One thing I'm pretty sure of is that it will throw up some unexpected results", said Bridges, who believes that information from Ryugu samples could make us think again about the early evolution of the solar system.

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