Japan's Hayabusa 2 bombed an asteroid and took pictures of the crater
Thar she blows! New images captured by Japan’s Hayabusa 2 spacecraft confirm that it successfully blew a hole in the asteroid Ryugu with explosives on 5 April.
The bombing raid aimed to get under the surface of the asteroid and throw up particles from beneath the surface, untouched by cosmic radiation. Later, Hayabusa 2 will scoop up these samples for return to Earth.
Photos released immediately after the impact showed debris released by the explosion, but to get a better view of what happened, Hayabusa 2 descended to an altitude of 1.7 kilometres on Thursday.
These new images show the site before and after the blast. An area about 20 metres wide has been disturbed. “We did not expect such a big alternation so a lively debate has been initiated in the project!” said a post on the mission’s Twitter account.
Ryugu is a relic from the formation of the solar system, so its composition could give us an insight into the makeup of early planets.
Hayabusa 2 is due to begin its return journey to Earth in November.