You could call it revenge for the asteroid that destroyed the dinosaurs. A kind of
Eyes on Earth has been watching impatiently the Japanese spacecraft Hayabusa2 for that moment in which it would crush the asteroid Ryugu in the face, but for science, not to take revenge. JAXA finally did it the night before, firing a projectile through the darkness to destroy a crater in the 3,000-foot-wide space rock. Why? So it can be studied more thoroughly, of course.
When most people on this side of the planet went to bed or watched television late at night, around 10:00 p.m. ET, Hayabusa's Small Carry-on Impactor (SCI) operation was preparing to launch a cosmic coup. The Hayabusa2 mother ship deployed a 4.4-pound copper plate backed by serious explosives. 40 minutes later, the explosives detonated, firing the projectile at 4,500 mph. You can probably imagine what happened next.
Hayabusa2 was right. The mothership needed to cover itself behind Ryugu to avoid being bombarded by the inevitable rain of debris, so she used her DCAM3 camera to show the explosion. The DCAM3 captured an impact shot and blew the minds of the entire Earth with it.
"After the start of the operation, the camera [that] separated from Hayabusa2 captured an image showing the ejection from Ryugu's surface, implying that the SCI had worked as planned, "said officials from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).
While Hayabusa2 had already taken a sample of the asteroid in February, when the mother ship made a brief landing, it can take another from the artificial crater if there is a large enough piece of debris floating around. The previous sample will land on Earth in 2020 in a special return capsule. If the ship manages to snatch another one, it will probably follow its example, although JAXA still does not have a word about it.
Even if he can not get more elements of asteroids to send them to the planet of origin, Hayabusa2 will continue to watch Ryugu from a distance and study his newly exposed bowels. The sample that reaches human hands could tell us more about the birth of the solar system and even the emergence of life on Earth. It is believed that asteroids have brought water and organic molecules to our nascent planet.
This mission will only be added to the data Hayabusa2 has collected so far. The ship has already landed two jumping rovers and a larger 22-pound lander on the asteroid, and still has one more hopper that could be shipping this summer.
By the way, another asteroid is about to be hit soon (if you call 2022 soon), this time by NASA. Science fiction movies could not do this better.