Tokyo (Kyodo) – The Japanese space probe Hayabusa2 has successfully created an artificial crater of an asteroid that has changed the terrain of the body in a historic area, the space agency said.
Hayabusa2 shot a shot at the asteroid Ryugu about 340 million kilometers from Earth as part of the probe's mission to explore the origins of life and evolution of the Solar System.
"The terrain of the asteroid is obviously altered," said Yuichi Zuda, an associate professor at the Japan Space Research Agency.
Hayabusa2, who began his descent to the asteroid on Wednesday afternoon, captures images on his surface to determine the existence of the crater after successfully firing a shell projectile in Ryugu on April 5 in an experiment considered the first of its kind.
According to JAXA, the probe shot the area hit by the projectile from a distance of 1.7 km. The Agency compares images of the surface of the asteroid before and after shelling to determine the presence of an artificial crater.
Hayabusa2 fired a copper "head shot" at Ryugu. The agency confirmed the breakdown of debris caused by the collision.
Launched in December 2014 by the Tanegashima Space Center in southwest Japan, Hayabusa2 reached Ryugu last June.
In February, she dropped to collect surface samples and found hydrated minerals to help scientists determine whether the asteroids had brought water to Earth, as supposed.
Hayabusa2 has to return to Earth in 2020, according to JAXA.
Asteroids like Ryugu are often compared to fossils containing the traces of the time the solar system was born. But the impact of the solar wind has torn the surface of Ryugu, which requires deep digging to collect such materials.