Japanese space agency reports success in dropping explosive on an asteroid
TOKYO, Japan - Last week, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) announced its Hayabusa2 spacecraft had dropped what it dubbed a Small Carry-on Impactor (SCI) onto the asteroid Ryugu and caused to cause a planned explosion to create a crater.
JAXA reported that the Hayabusa2 had been moved to the backside of the asteroid, located roughly 180 million miles (300 million KM) from Earth, before the SCI was put into operation. The move helped save the spacecraft from damage.
The SCI was a small box, which sent a copper ball, roughly the size of a baseball, into the surface of Ryugu. Hayabusa2's camera system showed the impactor being released and the resulting shards from the asteroid being sent up from the surface.
"The mission was a success," JAXA project manager Yuichi Tsuda said.
The space agency plans to send Hayabusa2 back around the asteroid to the impact site to collect samples from the crater that haven't been exposed to solar radiation for the first time.
"So far, Hayabusa2 has done everything as planned, and we are delighted," mission leader Makoto Yoshikawa said last week. "But we still have more missions to achieve and it's too early for us to celebrate."
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