Japanese Space Agency Bombs Asteroid To Create Landing Crater

Artist's concept of a near-Earth object.NASA/JPL-Caltech

The Japanese mission could further our understanding of how our planet was formed.

According to The New York Times, a Japanese space mission fired a projectile at the surface of an asteroid near Earth to study it more. The camera released during the operation showed material ejected from the asteroid, meaning the blast went off as planned.

The goal for the operation was to make a crater on the asteroid, Ryugu, so a spacecraft could land on it and gather rock samples. These samples could further scientists' understanding of how our planet formed.

The Japanese probe, Hayabusa2, has been studying Ryugu since last year. They hope to return samples of the rock to Earth in 2020.

In February, Hayabusa2 fired a smaller projectile on to the surface of Ryugu and collected samples from a cloud of debris.

NASA is carrying out a similar project. The Osiris-Rex spacecraft is studying an asteroid known as Bennu. NASA will collect samples from the asteroid and bring them back to Earth in 2023.

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