Ja­pan space probe drops ex­plo­sive on as­ter­oid to make crater

Sun.Star Pampanga - - SCIENCE! -

TOKYO (AP) — Ja­pan’s space agency said its Hayabusa2 space­craft re­leased an ex­plo­sive onto an as­ter­oid to make a crater on its sur­face and col­lect un­der­ground sam­ples to find pos­si­ble clues to the ori­gin of the so­lar sys­tem.

Fri­day’s crater mis­sion is the riski­est for Hayabusa2, as it had to im­me­di­ately get away so it won’t get hit by fly­ing shards from the blast.

The Ja­pan Aero­space Ex­plo­ration Agency, or JAXA, said that Hayabusa2 dropped a “small carry-on im­pactor” made of copper onto the as­ter­oid Fri­day morn­ing, and that the space­craft safely evac­u­ated and re­mained in­tact. JAXA is an­a­lyz­ing fur­ther de­tails.

The copper ex­plo­sive is the size of a base­ball weigh­ing 2 kilo­grams (4.4 pounds).

JAXA plans to send Hayabusa2 back to the site later, when the dust and de­bris set­tle, for ob­ser­va­tions from above and to col­lect sam­ples from un­der­ground that have not been ex­posed to the sun or space rays. Sci­en­tists hope the sam­ples will be crucial to de­ter­mine the his­tory of the as­ter­oid and our planet.

If suc­cess­ful, it would be the first time for a space­craft to take such ma­te­ri­als. In a 2005 “deep im­pact” mis­sion to a comet, NASA ob­served frag­ments after blast­ing the sur­face but did not col­lect them.

After drop­ping the im­pactor, the space­craft was to move quickly to the other side of the as­ter­oid to avoid fly­ing shards from the blast. While mov­ing away, Hayabusa2 was also to leave a cam­era to cap­ture the out­come, which would take time to reach Earth for anal­y­sis.

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 craft is sched­uled to leave the as­ter­oid at the end of 2019 and bring sur­face frag­ments and un­der­ground sam­ples back to Earth in late 2020.

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

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Philippines

© PressReader. All rights reserved.