TOKYO: Japan's Hayabusa2 space probe has successfully fired a bomblike bombardment against an asteroid in the first attempt to artificially form a crater to see what's beneath the surface, hoping to illuminate the evolution of the solar system and life .
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, announced the milestone on Friday. The "small hand impactor" was released around 11 a.m. JST and reached the asteroid Ryugu about 40 minutes later. A remote camera captured a cloud of dust on the surface that confirmed a blow.
"We have established a new method to explore space," said Yuichi Tsuda, project manager of the mission.
Hayabusa2 will confirm at the end of April if a crater was created successfully. I could land on the asteroid as early as May.
The objective was to create a notch width meter for observation and sample collection. The researchers intend to discover layers that have been protected from the strong radiation of space in search of organic compounds and water.
If successful, Hayabusa2 would be the first probe that would bring samples of subsoil from an asteroid to Earth. It is expected that the costs through its return at the end of 2020 will total 28.9 billion yen ($ 259 million).
The general mission has helped to strengthen Japanese capabilities in space. As part of the last maneuver, Hayabusa2 went to the side of the asteroid that was facing the collision and recorded the impact through a remote camera.
"Now we can control the probes exactly as we want, which opens up many opportunities for future space missions," said Takashi Kubota, research director of JAXA's Space Science and Astronautics Institute.
The US space agency NASA seeks to land its Osiris-Rex probe on the asteroid Bennu in 2020. It does not plan to make a crater there, an exclusive focus of Japan for now. Even observing the Ryugu crater from orbit would mark a significant scientific achievement.
Japan fell behind the United States and Russia when probing the moon, but has made a hole in the asteroids. He wants to take advantage of the latest success to continue leading the world in the field.