Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency(JAXA) announced further plans for the mission of the Hayabusa-2 spacecraft, which landed on Ryuga asteroid and collected samples of its ground last month, after firing a special metal projectile at the surface of the object. As it became known, JAXA is going to conduct a very risky operation next month - to drop a small explosive shell onto the asteroid's surface in order to create a crater on the asteroid's surface and collect subsurface soil samples.
According to scientists, the analysis of these samples can shed more light on the history of our solar system.
The Japanese Space Agency explains thatOn April 5, Hayabusa-2 will have to throw a bursting impactor the size of a baseball and weighing 2 kilograms onto the asteroid's surface. Some time after this, the spacecraft will collect soil samples from a deeper asteroid layer that has not been exposed to cosmic and solar radiation.
During the operation, afterthe projectile will be dropped to the surface, the spacecraft will need to be very quickly moved to the opposite side of the asteroid in order to prevent its damage as a result of the explosion and fragments that have risen into space. The head of the Hayabusa-2 mission from JAXA, Takanao Saeki, notes that "the operation has to be very complicated."
As soon as the device starts to move to anothertowards Ryugu, he “shoots off” a special stand-alone module with a camera that will capture everything that happens. On the other side of the asteroid, Hayabusa-2 will spend several weeks, after which it will return to the site of the bombardment to conduct observations and studies of the crater. According to Koji Wada, another mission leader, scientists plan to analyze the crater and the soil it contains in order to better understand its origin history.
The day before the bombing operationAsteroid spacecraft "Hayabusa-2" will begin to approach the surface, dropping to an altitude of 20 kilometers. After this, the probe will reset the cone-shaped impactor containing the explosive. The explosion should deform the projectile, changing its shape to spherical. As a result, the projectile will collide with the surface of the asteroid at a speed of 2 kilometers per second.
JAXA hopes that during this operationa crater with a diameter of up to 10 meters and a depth of 1 meter can be created on the surface of the Ryugu, if of course the internal structure of the object is softer. If the asteroid consists of more solid subsurface soil, the crater will have a smaller diameter.
Japan Space Agency plans to holdshort landing "Hayabusa-2" in the resulting crater. However, JAXA notes that the safety of the device is in the first place for them. If such an operation is considered unsafe, then it will be abandoned. If the probe after the bombardment nevertheless decides to land, then this will be the first time in history when samples of subsurface soil will be taken from the surface of such an object.
It is planned that all scientific space operationsHayabusa-2 will complete by the end of 2019. The collected soil samples are planned to be delivered to the Earth by the end of 2020 for further analysis.
The asteroid got its name from the Japanesefolklore - tales of the fisherman Urashima Taro, who visited the magical underwater castle-palace Ryugu-jo - the residence of the ruler of the sea element dragon Ryujin. From there, the fisherman brought home a mysterious paper box, presented to him by the daughter of the sea ruler. When choosing a name for the asteroid, it was considered that the plot of the tale echoes the task of the Hayabusa-2 probe for delivering a soil sample, the composition of which is unknown, from an asteroid to Earth.
The diameter of the asteroid Ryugu is about 900 meters. Its orbit lies approximately 300 million kilometers from Earth.
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