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Hayabusa2 probe to examine artificial crater on asteroid Ryugu on April 25

This image taken by a camera detached from the space probe Hayabusa2 shows rocks on the asteroid Ryugu flying up three seconds after an impactor struck the surface. (Image courtesy of JAXA, Kobe University and other institutes)

TOKYO -- The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) will on April 25 observe an artificial crater made on the asteroid Ryugu by its space probe Hayabusa2, the agency announced on April 11.

The probe will observe the crater, which was generated during an impact experiment on April 5, from a height of 1.7 kilometers. JAXA will collate the data with photographs of the surface taken near the impact point to measure the size and location of the crater. It will also examine the dispersion of rocks and judge whether Hayabusa2 can land to take samples.

In the experiment on April 5, it detonated a small carry-on impactor that separated from the probe at a height of about 300 meters above the asteroid's surface. The impactor fired a copper slug into the surface, which managed to strike within several dozen meters of the target.

Prior to the detonation, the probe moved away to avoid getting hit by debris. After separating from the probe, a detachable camera captured images of the impact, showing rocks and sand flying up.

(Japanese original by Tomohiro Ikeda, Science & Environment News Department)

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