Japan Just Bombed Asteroid Ryugu For The Sake Of Science

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Japan’s space agency just revealed that they have successfully dropped a small bomb on an asteroid this past Friday. This was a part of their efforts and mission to understand the history of the Solar System better.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) stated that its Hayabusa2 spacecraft detonated the copper explosive, also known as the Small Carry-on Inspector (SCI), on the Ryugu asteroid on Friday.

Science Alert writes that “The SCI weighs about 2 kg (4.4 lbs) and is the size of a baseball, The Associated Press (AP) reported,” and they continue to explain that “Hayabusa2 released the SCI about 500 meters (1,640 feet) above Ryugu’s surface around 11:13 am Japanese time (02:13 UTC) on Friday.”

Creating an artificial crater on Ryugu

The goal of this explosion was to create an artificial crater on Ryugu and JAXA is examining if or how it created that crater.

It seems that a copper plate on the bottom of the ball was expected to turn into a ball as it fell from the spacecraft and slam into Ryugu at 2km per second, accordion to AP.

This was supposed to punch a 10 meter (32.8 feet)-wide hole into the asteroid, according to the BBC.

Friday’s mission was reportedly hazardous for Hayabusa2 because it had to immediately move to hide on the other side the asteroid in order to be safe from any flying debris that was coming from the explosion.

Another interesting thing worth noting is that JAXA is currently waiting for the images of the explosion to come back to Earth so that we can see it all, but it is not too clear how long it’s going to take until our planet gets the photos.

Back in September 2018, JAXA landed two hopping robots on Ryugu, also as a part of the Hayabusa2 mission.

With this move, Japan became the first country in the world to land rovers on an asteroid.