Japan's space agency said it successfully launched a small bomb on an asteroid on Friday as part of its mission to better understand the history of the Solar System.
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) said its Hayabusa2 spacecraft detonated the copper explosive, also known as the Small Transport Inspector (SCI), on the asteroid Ryugu on Friday.
The SCI weighs approximately 2 kg (4.4 lbs) and is the size of a baseball, The Associated Press (AP) reported.
Hayabusa2 launched the SCI about 500 meters (1,640 feet) above the surface of Ryugu around 11:13 am Japan time (02:13 UTC) on Friday, JAXA tweeted.
The objective of the explosion was to create an artificial crater in Ryugu. JAXA is currently examining whether or how it managed to create the crater.
It was said that a copper plate on the bottom of the ball would turn into a ball as it fell from the spacecraft and crash into Ryugu at 2 km (1.2 miles) per second. It was intended to drill a hole 10 meters (32.8 feet) wide in the asteroid, the BBC reported.
Friday's mission was incredibly risky for Hayabusa2, as he had to move immediately to hide the asteroid on the other side in order to protect himself from flying debris from the explosion.
JAXA is currently waiting for the images of the explosion to be transmitted to Earth. It is not entirely clear how long this will take.
If everything goes according to plan, JAXA plans to send Hayabusa2 back to the asteroid later, when dust and debris from the explosion settle, AP said.
The agency expects to collect underground samples from Ryugu, which could contain organic substances and water that could indicate the origins of the Solar System, the Japanese Kyodo News reported.
It is expected that Hayabusa2 and the samples it has collected will return to Earth at the end of 2020.
Last September, JAXA landed two jumping robots in Ryugu, also as part of the Hayabusa2 mission, making Japan the first country in the world to land rovers on an asteroid.
Hayabusa2 also landed successfully on a flat surface in Ryugu in February and collected dust and debris on the surface.
Markoto Yoshikawa, the leader of the mission, said according to the AP: "So far, Hayabusa2 has done everything as planned, and we are delighted, but we still have more missions to accomplish and it is too early to celebrate with & # 39; banzai & # 39 ;. "
"Banzai" is a traditional Japanese exclamation that wishes ten thousand years of long life.
This article was originally published by Business Insider.
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