Japanese Spacecraft “Hayabusa2” Has Dropped A Copper Explosive On An Asteroid

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency or JAXA for short has announced Friday that its Hayabusa2 spacecraft has dropped an explosive on an asteroid in order to create a crater and collect the underground samples in hopes of finding more information about the origin of our solar system. This is the riskiest mission that Hayabusa2 went on and luckily, it was successful.

Hayabusa2 Risky Mission

The risky part about Hayabusa2’s mission was that the spacecraft needed to quickly move out of the way after dropping the explosive designed to create a crater on the asteroid’s surface. One bad move and pieces of the asteroid could have damaged the spacecraft. Fortunately, Hayabusa2 moved right in time and nothing bad happened.

Analyzing the Data

JAXA announced that its spacecraft dropped a “small carry-on impactor” made of copper on the asteroid’s surface. Furthermore, the “small carry-on impactor” was specially designed to create a crater and to not deteriorate the underground samples. JAXA reports that the copper explosive weighed in at 4.4 pounds (2 kilograms) which made it the size of a baseball.

In addition, the copper explosive was shaped as a cone and the copper plate was placed on the bottom side so that the explosive would turn into a ball during its descent at the speed of 1.2 miles per second (2 kilometers).

The Mission Leader Speaks Out

Makoto Yoshikawa was the mission leader on Hayabusa2 and he made the following statement about his successful mission: “So far, Hayabusa2 has done everything as planned, and we are delighted. But we still have more mission to achieve and its too early for us to celebrate with ‘banzai’”.

Nonetheless, Hayabusa2 has now successfully touched down on a small surface of the asteroid and it is scheduled to leave the asteroid at the end of the year. Therefore, Hayabusa2 will bring the collected samples to be analyzed on Earth somewhere in late 2020.

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