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Japanese spacecraft bombs an asteroid to learn the origin of the solar system

ScienceandFuture
Japan Jaxa Hayabusa2 (Source: Jaxa)

Japan’s Space Agency JAXA said an explosive dropped on April 5 from its Hayabusa2 spacecraft successfully blasting the surface of an asteroid. This is the first successful mission in forming a crater and pave the way for the collection of underground samples for possible indications to the origin of the solar system.

Japan’s Hayabusa2 spacecraft released an explosive onto the asteroid Ryugu to make a crater on its surface.

This Friday’s mission was the riskiest for Hayabusa2 because it had to immediately move away to avoid flying shards from the blast.

Hayabusa2 spacecraft dropped a small explosive box which sent a copper ball equivalent to the size of a baseball colliding into the asteroid, and the data which they recovered was safely received from the spacecraft.

Japanese Space Agency JAXA later confirmed the impact from images transmitted from a camera left behind by the Hayabusa2 spacecraft, which showed the impactor being released and fine particles later spraying far out from a spot on the asteroid.

JAXA Project manager Yuichi Tsuda expresses his joy saying “The mission was a success”. He went on claiming that “It is highly likely to have made a crater.”

Japan’s JAXA mission plan was to send Hayabusa2, which was moved to the other side of the asteroid and then back to the site after dust and debris settle for observations. The last step was to collect samples of material from the new crater that was unexposed to the sun or space rays.

Japanese Scientists are hopeful that the sample data they have collected may shed some light on understanding the history of the solar system, since asteroids are left over material from its formation.

Although this experiment wasn’t the first of its kind. American Space Agency NASA in 2005, in their “deep impact” mission, observed fragments after blasting the surface but they failed to collect them and no such samples were recovered. While NASA’s mission failed to achieve this, there shortcoming helped JAXA to properly execute this mission in their very first attempt.

The mission was set to launch last month when JAXA announced that a group of scientists participating in the Hayabusa2 mission had detected hydroxyl-bearing minerals on the asteroid. They found the mineral type by analyzing near-infrared spectrometer readings by the Hayabusa2 spacecraft.

In order to provide for the future, we must understand the past and the Japanese scientists said that this could help explain where the Earth’s water came from. The results of these findings were published in the online edition of Science magazine.

After their successful mission on Friday(5th April) Mission Leader Makoto Yoshikawa said: “So far, Hayabusa2 has done everything as planned, and we are delighted”. Excited by the success and determined for the future he also added: “But we still have more missions to achieve and it’s too early for us to celebrate.”

Hayabusa2 spacecraft successfully touched down on a small level area on the boulder-strewn asteroid in the month of February when it also collected some surface dust and small debris. The spacecraft is scheduled to leave the asteroid at the end of this year and bring the surface fragments and underground samples back to Earth in late 2020.

Japanese Scientists named the asteroid Ryugu after an undersea palace in a Japanese folktale. This asteroid is about 300 million kilometers (180 million miles) from Earth.