Japan'sHayabusa2 mission continued its unprecedented explorations today by apparently creating an artificial crater in an asteroid, a space exploration first.
This pristine sample, which could be packed with water and other organic material, will hopefully help scientists understand the formation of the Solar System and how primitive balls of rock such as these, grew to become fully-fledged planets.
The Japanese Space Exploration Agency (JAXA) confirmed that Hayabusa2 "has carried out operations to separate the SCI (Small Carry-on Impactor)" in a statement on its website.
Tonight, the Hayabusa-2 will engage in this "crater operation" (April 4 in the US and the morning of April 5 at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) headquarters), where it will shoot asteroid Ryugu with explosives to create an artificial crater, Space.com reported.
The SCI weighs about 2 kg (4.4 lbs) and is the size of a baseball, The Associated Press (AP) reported. Japanese time on Friday, JAXA tweeted.
Artist's illustration of Hayabusa 2's impactor experiment. "We will be providing further information once we have confirmed whether a crater has been created on Ryugu". It was meant to punch a 10 meter (32.8 feet)- wide hole into the asteroid, the BBC reported.
Once the dust has settled, JAXA plans to send the spacecraft back to the crater to collect samples of material that have been unexposed to the sun or space rays. Japan's space agency JAXA said its Hayabusa2 spacecraft released an explosive onto the asteroid to make a crater on its surface and collect underground samples to find possible clues to the origin of the solar system. Then, it will deploy a collector to pick up samples of the asteroid and, unlike previous missions to comets and asteroids, will return samples to Earth in December 2020.
Hayabusa2 successfully touched down on a tiny flat surface on the boulder-rich asteroid in February, when the spacecraft also collected some surface dust and small debris. "The SCI separation and evacuation sequence were a success", mission team members wrote on Twitter around 2 a.m. EDT (0600 GMT and 3 p.m. Japan time) today (April 5).
"Banzai" is a traditional Japanese exclamation wishing ten thousand years of long life.
Over the next two weeks or so, the main Hayabusa2 spacecraft will slowly creep out of hiding and return to its "home position" about 12.4 miles (20 kilometers) above Ryugu's surface.
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