Taking Another Shot
Just this month, Hayabusa2 lowered itself again on Ryugu’s surface for another strike. This time around, however, the probe was programmed to shoot with more force of impact.
To do this, they employ a cone-shaped canister containing high explosive materials. Almost immediately after firing the projectile, Hayabusa2 skirted away to a safe distance, effectively avoiding the shooting debris.
JAXA was able to document and even broadcast the entire collision process between Ryugu and the explosive device called the Small Carry-on Impactor (SCI).
Small But Terrible
Upon reaching Ryugu’s surface, SCI’s packed explosive detonated, shooting what’s basically a copper cannon ball towards the asteroid at the speed of 1.2 miles per second.
The Japanese authorities have yet to shed more details on the detonation and its resulting impact on Ryugu. However, the resulting size of the crater can at least be determined by what type of surface material the copper ball hits. With the right circumstances, the SCI explosion could create a crater as wide as 10 meters across.
When the dust has settled, the Hayabusa2 main probe will circumvent again to the region it has just blasted.
Getting the Right Samples
The Japanese space agency hopes to accumulate underground samples of the asteroid which they believe could contain water and organic substances. These findings could reportedly lend more explanation as to how our Solar System has come to be.
It’s quite interesting to note though that there already exists a crater in the asteroid from which the mission could definitely take samples from.
However, it is deemed more ideal to get these so-called rock specimens inside the freshly-blasted crater. As such, Hayabusa2 would be able to collect deeply-buried chunks of materials which haven’t yet been exposed to space environment for eons.
The samples, depending from which option the Hayabusa2 will take, are slated to be shipped back to Earth by the end of 2020.