The Japanese probe aims to launch asteroid explosive.
“It’s going to be very challenging,” says project engineer Takanao Saeki; action is scheduled for April 5
After completing the feat of landing on the asteroid Ryugu, Hayabusa 2 has a new challenge ahead.
Now, the Japanese probe will launch an explosive on the asteroid to collect underground samples of the object.
The idea of the researchers is, from the analysis of samples of material that has never been exposed to the sun or space rays, to understand the origin of our solar system better.
Action should occur on April 5 this year. If that works out, this will be the first time a probe will carry materials from the basement of an asteroid.
According to Japan’s Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), the mission will require the spacecraft to move quickly to the other side of the asteroid so fragments of the explosion will not hit it.
“It’s going to be very challenging,” says project engineer Takanao Saeki.
According to Koji Wada, who is responsible for the project, the scientists plan to analyze every detail of the asteroid crater, which is about 900 meters in diameter and 300 million kilometers from Earth, to determine its origin and history.
The idea is that Hayabusa 2 will begin to approach the asteroid one day before the mission.
Then the probe will drop the explosive, which must hit the asteroid at 2 kilometers per second.
THE RYUGU ASTEROID PHOTOGRAPHED BY THE HAYABUSA 2 SPACECRAFT (PHOTO: JAXA, UNIVERSITY OF TOKYO COLLABORATORS)
After the explosion, JAXA predicts that the asteroid crater will be 10 meters in diameter and 1 meter deep.
In February, the Japanese spacecraft already had fired a pinball-like bullet to collect dust and small fragments.