The Japanese asteroid probe Hayabusa2 has been in orbit around the space rock known as Ryugu for months, trying its most complicated maneuver in February. The spaceship shot a projectile into the surface of the asteroid and grabbed a few samples to finally deliver to Earth, but its mission was far from over.
Now, less than two months later, Japanese space group JAXA has completed eviction. The probe is attempting to perform another sampling maneuver, which requires the spacecraft to use an explosive device to fire a projectile on the surface of the rock. Hayabusa's handlers on Earth say that the probe and its impactor seem to have done their job, and they have a photo as evidence.
Gathering an asteroid sample is difficult, especially with a space rock covered as Ryugu. For convenience, JAXA has developed the probe with instruments known as Small Carry-on Impactors (SCIs).
The impactors work like one-shot cannons then retreat to a safe distance. The impactor then shoots an explosive charge, shoots a solid, bullet-shaped projectile into the rock and hurls some surface remains away.
consists of capturing only some of the dust from the outer layer. This time, the camera detected the explosion and you can clearly see a cloud of dust being pushed out of a newly formed crater.
Because the debris could damage the spacecraft if it is too close, JAXA will now wait a few weeks for things to settle down before returning to the crater and sending Hayabusa2 to its surface for a trial flight maneuver.
Eventually, the spaceship will return home with these and other samples, which could help scientists better understand how asteroids form and where they come from.