TOKYO (Kyodo) – The Japanese space probe Hayabusa2 has successfully created an artificial crater on an asteroid that altered the terrain of the body in a historic space agency of the country said Thursday ,
Hayabusa2 had fired a missile on the Ryugu asteroid about 340 million kilometers from Earth as part of the probe's mission to explore the origin of life and the evolution of the solar system.
"The terrain of the asteroid has clearly changed," said Yuichi Tsuda, associate professor at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.
Hayabusa2, which began its descent toward the asteroid on Wednesday afternoon, took pictures of its surface to determine the existence of the crater after successfully killing the first of its kind on April 5 in Ryugu in an experiment.
According to the JAXA, the probe photographed the area hit by the projectile from a distance of 1.7 km. The agency compared images of the surface of the asteroid before and after launching the projectile to determine the presence of an artificial crater.
Hayabusa2 shot a copper "hit head" in Ryugu. The agency confirmed an outbreak of debris caused by the collision.
Hayabusa2 was launched in December 2014 by the Tanegashima Space Center in southwestern Japan and reached Ryugu last June.
In February, it landed to collect surface samples and find hydrogenated minerals to help scientists determine if asteroids were bringing water to Earth as hypothetically.
Hayabusa2 is due to return to Earth, according to JAXA 2020.
Asteroids like Ryugu are often compared to fossils that preserve the vestiges of time when the solar system was born. But the effects of the solar wind have survived the surface of Ryugu, so it is necessary to dig deep to collect such materials.