As part of your mission to explore a nearby asteroid (NEA)
162173 Ryugu, Japanese Space Exploration Agency (JAXA) Hayabusa2 the spacecraft recently dropped a "bomb" on the asteroid's surface. This explosive package, known as the Small Carry-on Impactor (SCI), has been specifically designed to create a crater on the surface, exposing the interior to analysis.
SCI deployment took place on April 5, exactly six weeks after the spacecraft carried its first specimen from the surface. Last Sunday (April 21, 2019), JAXA video "Bombing" through the official twitter mission account. Four days later pictures followed crater this has resulted in a darker material from the interior that has now been exposed to space.
Operation SCI consisted of a 2.5 kg copper plate (5.5 pounds), which was accelerated by a 4.5 kg (~ 10 pound) molded cartridge plasticized HMX (aka octogen) – used in military weapons and ammunition. The board then collided with the surface and released a cloud of regolith, which was then photographed by the spacecraft camera (DCAM3) – which has been destroyed in the process.
The video provided in the tweet (shown above) was composed of images taken by a space probe thermal infrared camera (TRI), which indicates that the SCI moves shortly after separation from the spacecraft. With the completion of Operation SCI, the mission team began to advance to the next phase of spacecraft operation.
This next stage – Crater Search Operation 2 (CRA2) – began on April 23 when the team began to re-prepare the products. Descent began the following day, and on April 25, the spacecraft reached its lowest height of 1.7 km (1.05 mi). Once there, he made a crater observation to see what impact it had.
This is the same region spacecraft observed during its last observation run (nicknamed CRA1), which ran from March 20 to March 22 before SCI deployment. Once the observations were completed, JAXA tweeted images from both CRA1 and CRA2 provided before and after surface comparison.
As you can see, the blast moved some of the larger pieces of material out of the way and left a decent crater. It also revealed a regolit patch that is noticeably darker than what was on the surface. In this regard, SCI fulfilled its purpose of breaking the surface in order to analyze the regolith from the interior.
This is similar to the process used by the mission team to obtain material samples from the surface. Before descending to collect a regolith with its sampling horn, the spacecraft breaks the surface by striking it with 5-gram tantalum impactors (aka. "Bullets") at speeds of 300 m / s (1080 km / h; 670 mph).
The purpose is to determine the composition of the asteroid to look into the earliest period of the Solar System. According to the current scientific consensus, asteroids like Ryugu are composed of the material left from the formation of the planets, ca. 4.5 billion years ago. Samples obtained from inside the asteroid are preferred because they have not been exposed to vacuum and sunlight for billions of years.
In addition, scientists believe that water and organic materials have been distributed by asteroids during one of the earlier solar system periods, known as the Late Heavy Bombardment Period (about 4.1 to 3.8 billion years). The study of these materials is expected to shed light on how water and organic materials were originally distributed in our solar system.
On the other hand, this information could go a long way towards informing our theories about how and where life could happen (ie Other than Earth).
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