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Japan's space agency said Monday that its Hayabusa2 spacecraft will follow up last month's touchdown on a distant asteroid with another risky mission—dropping an explosive on the asteroid to make a crater and then collect underground samples for possible clues to the origin of the solar system.
Hayabusa2 made history on Feb. 22 when it successfully touched down on the boulder-strewn asteroid and collected some surface fragments.
Japan - Aerospace - Exploration - Agency - Hayabusa2
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency said Hayabusa2 will drop an impactor the size of a baseball weighing 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds) on the asteroid on April 5 to collect samples from deeper underground that have not been exposed to the sun or space rays.
The mission will require the spacecraft to move quickly to the other side of the asteroid so it won't get hit by flying shards from the blast, JAXA project engineer Takanao Saeki said. "It will be very challenging."
Hayabusa2 - Camera - Outcome - Spacecraft - Weeks
While moving away, Hayabusa2 will leave a camera to capture the outcome. The spacecraft is to wait a few weeks before returning to the area above the crater for observations.
The mission will allow JAXA scientists to analyze details of the crater to determine the history of the asteroid, said Koji Wada, who is in charge of the project.
Day - Mission - Hayabusa2 - Asteroid - Home
A day before the mission, Hayabusa2 will start descending to the asteroid from its home position of 20 kilometers (12 miles) away. It will drop...
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