Japan has created an artificial asteroid crater by blasting an exploding device on its surface. The size of the crater has exceeded the expectations of Japanese scientists who want to study the subsoil of this distant celestial body.
The Japanese Star Wars-like mision has been successful. The Japanese space exploration agency (Jaxa) announced on Thursday that the explosive device dropped by the Hayabusa 2 probe has managed to create an artificial crater on an asteroid, the first experience of its kind aimed at clarifying the constitution of the system solar. Hayabusa 2 released near the asteroid Ryugu an “impactor” which exploded, projected a mass on the interstellar body to damage the surface.
“Creating an artificial crater with an impactor and observing it in detail later on is a first global attempt,” said a senior official at a press briefing. “It’s a great success,” he said. On the images taken by the probe, “we can see a huge hole more clearly than expected,” said Masahiko Arakawa, a professor at Kobe University involved in the project, adding that the images showed a crater 10 meters in diameter .
A target 340 million kilometers from the Earth
Researchers believe that the asteroid contains relatively large amounts of organic matter and water for about 4.6 billion years, when the solar system was born. In February, Hayabusa2 was able to land on Ryugu, a stealth contact that apparently collected dust from the soil of this interstellar body. But this time, it is more in-depth elements that need to be recovered.
The Hayabusa 2 adventure began on December 3, 2014. The probe then left for a long journey of 3.2 billion kilometers to reach Ryugu which is 340 million kilometers from the Earth, because it is impossible to go in a straight line. It took it three years and ten months to reach its destination. In June 2018, it finally settled 20 kilometers from Ryugu, a very old diamond-shaped asteroid that dates back to the formation of the solar system.
The probe had also dropped in October on the asteroid a small Franco-German robot, Mascot, who had worked more than 17 hours to analyze the composition of the soil of this primitive rock body, hoping to better understand the formation of the system solar. The ultimate goal is to help enrich the knowledge of our space environment “to better understand the onset of life on Earth,” according to Jaxa. The arrival on Earth of collected samples is expected in 2020.