On April 4, the space probe Hayabusa2 threw a bomb against a space rock then ducked to wait for the debris to settle. But before that happened, the impactor on the asteroid watched. Called Ryugu.
Launched by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), the spacecraft has been investigating the asteroid for nearly a year since June 2018. As part of his spacecraft mission Hayabusa2 ] has collaborated with Ryugu in a series of slightly aggressive interactions – all designed to help scientists better understand the space rock and what they might say about the beginnings of the solar system.
First, Hayabusa2 published a series of small, leaping Rovers on the surface. Then it descended to the surface of Ryugu to absorb a sample of its rock. Then perhaps the most violent experiment of the lot came: with an explosive device an artificial crater was formed on the surface of the asteroid.
Related: Photos: Japan's Hayabusa2 Asteroid Rehearsal Mission
This is what happened on April 4, and now JAXA has released footage of the impactor on the way to space rock , The video was taken by the main probe so that it was cut off long before the blast ̵
But the video still offers incredible views of the rocky surface of the asteroid from a distance of 500 meters.
JAXA was able to confirm within a day after the maneuver that the striker definitely hit Ryugu's surface and released a grainy image of debris flying out of space rock. However, the agency has not published any images of the crater left behind in the process.
Scientists will use these images – and perhaps even a sample scooped out of the crater when the mission meets its remaining targets – to better understand the interior of Ryugu. The artificial crater would have had to dig up some of the asteroid's surface materials to give scientists access to pristine rocks that would not be affected by the harsh conditions of space.
Besides inspecting the crater, JAXA also intends to release one last small rover Ryugu's Surface before packing up and ending the year on the way home. When the spacecraft returns to Earth, it brings with it samples of the distant world it has spent so long studying – precious cargo from its invasion studies.