Ryugu, the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) Hayabusa2 recently made a "bomb" asteroid surface as part of its Near-Earth Asteroid (NEA) Exploration
162173 mission. Called a Small Carry-on Impactor (SCI), this explosive package has been specifically designed to create a crater in the surface that clears the interior for analysis.
The deployment of the SCI took place on April 5, exactly six weeks later, the spacecraft collected its first sample from the surface. Last Sunday (April 21, 2019), JAXA delivered the video of the "bombing raid" on Mission's official Twitter account. Four days later, images of the crater (19459008) followed, yielding a darker material from the interior now exposed to space.
The SCI operation consisted of 2.5 kg copper The plate is accelerated by a hollow charge of 4.5 kg plasticized HMX explosive (alias octogen) – used in military weapons and ammunition. The plate then collided with the surface, releasing a cloud of regolith, which was then photographed by the extendable camera of the DCS3 (DCAM3), which was destroyed.
The video provided in the tweet consisted of images taken by the spacecraft Infrared Camera (TRI) , which shows how the SCI moves from the probe to the surface shortly after its separation. After the SCI operation was completed, the mission team began the next phase of spacecraft operations.
This next phase – Crater Search Operation 2 (CRA2) – began on April 23, when the team began to surface the preparations for the descent toward SCI. The descent started the following day, and on April 25, the spacecraft reached its lowest height of 1.7 km. Once there, he made observations of the crater to see what the impact was.
This is the same region that observed the spacecraft during its last observation run (CRA1), which took place from March 20 to 22, the deployment of the SCI. After the observations were completed, JAXA tweeted images of CRA1 and CRA2 to allow a comparison of the surface before and after the procedure.
As you can see, the explosion removed some of the larger clumps of material and left a decent image. big crater. It also exposed a piece of regolith that is noticeably darker than the one on the surface. In this regard, the SCI served its purpose of breaking up the surface so that regolith could be analyzed from the inside.
This is similar to the process that the mission team used to extract material samples from the surface. Before descending to collect the regolith with its sampling horn, the spacecraft breaks the surface by striking it with 5-gram tantalum impactors (aka "projectiles") at a speed of 300 m / s (1080 km / h). 19659002] The goal is to determine the composition of an asteroid to gain insight into the earliest time of our solar system. According to the current scientific consensus, asteroids like Ryugu are made of material left over from the formation of the planets. 4.5 billion years ago. Samples from inside the asteroid are preferred because they have not been exposed to vacuum or sunlight for billions of years.
In addition, scientists believe that water and organic material from asteroids were distributed during an earlier period of the solar system, the Late Heavy Bombardment Period (about 4.1 to 3.8 billion years ago). The study of these materials should therefore shed light on how water and organic materials were originally distributed in our solar system.
This information, in turn, could help inform our theories about where and how (other than) life on earth could have occurred.
Further reading: JAXA