Japanese probe hits the asteroid with explosive and complete its mission.
“This is the first collision experiment in the world with an asteroid!” Wrote the Japanese researchers on Twitter.
During the early hours of Friday, 5, the probe Hayabusa2 released a small explosive pendulum toward the asteroid Ryugu.
After months of preparation, Japan’s Aerospace Exploration Agency, JAXA, conducted this procedure remotely in the operating room located on Earth.
Broadcasted in real time, the mission took hours and was filled with tension: in the end, those in charge of the project celebrated a lot.
The whole operation was called “Operation of the Small Impactor of Charge,” and its main objective was to better understand the interior of an asteroid, as well as the origin of the Solar System and life on Earth.
For this, JAXA decided to create a crater in Ryugu and to collect some samples.
Throughout the night, thousands of people watched, apprehensively, the confirmation from the Japanese space agency that the mission had been successfully completed.
On Twitter, at 03:38 a.m., JAXA wrote that the DCAM3 camera had successfully photographed the moment the explosive collided with the asteroid.
“This is the world’s first collision experiment with an asteroid! In the future we will examine the formed crater and how the ejector has dispersed, “they wrote.
After launching the explosive, Hayabusa2 backed off the asteroid for safety. With the images, the researchers hope to better understand exactly what the asteroid Ryugu is made of.
Slowly, the Japanese probe will return to its initial position, about 20 kilometers from the asteroid.
There is no information yet on the size of the artificial crater created in the asteroid.
Prior to the mission, the researchers predicted a crater between three and 10 meters in diameter, depending on the material from the surface of Ryugu – which is 300 million kilometers from Earth.
This is not the first time a space mission is conducted in an attempt to blow up an asteroid.
In 2005, NASA’s Deep Impact project created an artificial crater in a comet, but at the time it was intended for observation purposes only, without sampling.