The asteroid should eat a bullet from a JAXA spacecraft this week



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Ryugu

The Japanese spacecraft Hayabusa 2 will try to bring some of Ryugu back to Earth.

JAXA

Let's shoot a bullet on an asteroid. This may seem like an argument for a science fiction show, but it is about to become a reality this week when the Japanese space agency JAXA asks its Hayabusa 2 spacecraft to make it a reality. go get a sample of an asteroid.

Hayabusa 2 arrived at the Ryugu asteroid in mid-2018 and has already delivered two rovers and a lander on the surface. But touching the rock with its sampler horn is a delicate operation.

JAXA delayed the touchdown from last autumn after discovering that Ryugu's surface was much rockier than expected. The new sample collection time is Friday February 22nd at 8:00 am Japan time and Thursday February 21st at 3:00 pm. Pacific in the United States.

JAXA will stream live online from its control room with an English translation available.

The cylindrical horn of the spacecraft sampler is designed to touch the surface of the asteroid, shoot a bullet into the rock, and then collect the fragments ejected by the impact.

The Hayabusa 2 team conducted an experiment on Earth to determine if the sampler was likely to work with Ryugu's gravelly surface. The test consisted of firing a projectile on a simulated surface designed to mimic the asteroid. Depending on the results, the spacecraft system should work properly.

The touch is always a daring operation. The spacecraft will have to avoid the rocks, but will stay close enough to reach the surface. If all goes well, Hayabusa 2 will return to Earth at the end of 2020 with a little asteroid on board that scientists can study.

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