In a simulation, JAXA fired a tantalum bullet at a rocky surface area to examine how the particles would spread.


Japan’s Area Company (JAXA) has actually remained in a cosmic cars and truck chase with the spinning leading asteroid, Ryugu, considering that June 2018– and now, it’s fired the very first shot.

JAXA’s Hayabusa2 spacecraft effectively arrived on the potentially-hazardous asteroid Ryugu right before 3 p.m. PT on Feb. 22 to a spattering of applause and high-fives.

” We did it! We made it!” stated Seiichiro Watanabe on the livestream, job researcher with Hayabusa2, minutes after goal.

The Hayabusa 2 group commemorates after finding out of the spacecraft’s effective goal.


Hayabusa2 was created to arrive at the rocky asteroid and gather a sample from its surface area within simply a matter of minutes. To do so, Hayabusa2 comes down into position simply above the surface area and fires a tantalum bullet at the asteroid at around 650 miles per hour to kick up dust and particles. The group had formerly simulated this procedure in the world and crossed their fingers that all would work out 180 million miles away, too.

Hayabusa2’s landing website on the asteroid was close to the equator, simply east of Brabo crater, which gets its name from a Dutch story “Brabo and the giant”. Ryugu itself was called after a dragon’s palace in a popular Japanese folk tale and shares numerous names with fairy tales of old


Brian May, ever the astronomer, appeared on the livestream prior to the objective to want the group well.


Prior to the last goal, Brian May, rock legend, astronomer and Queen guitar player, appeared on the stream prior to Hayabusa was all set to touch down. May was likewise present when NASA’s New Horizons zipped past the most remote world we have actually yet checked out.

” Now I’m extremely delighted to be, in a sense, part of the Hayabusa household since I have actually had the ability to process some images from Ryugu and this has actually been an excitement– and it’s a labour of love for me,” the rockstar stated.

At 3: 08 p.m. PT, JAXA verified that Hayabusa 2 had actually effectively started to increase from the surface area of Ryugu

” The outcomes [are] precisely as we prepared, there was some discrepancy from the simulation chart, however the outcomes are such that whatever went according to strategy which’s excellent,” Junichiro Kawaguchi, Hayabusa2 job supervisor, stated soon after the goal.

The sample collection procedure just takes a matter of seconds and a “sample horn” gathers the pieces of rock that drain of the bullet injury. The maneuver achieved success, according to JAXA’s information, however what was gathered?

” Naturally, we do not understand if the sample is gathered,” Kawaguchi continued, “we need to wait and see.”

Regrettably, there are no detectors or sensing units on board to inform us precisely what Hayabusa2 got– that will need to wait up until the adventurous little spacecraft go back to Earth.

Japan has type in this area though. It is presently the only country to have actually effectively obtained samples from an asteroid when Hayabusa 1 snatched samples in2010 That spacecraft, introduced in 2003, was likewise created to fire bullets to kick up particles on the asteroid Itokawa. While it did effectively obtain samples from Itokawa’s surface area, the projectiles did not effectively fire. Speaking after today’s effective landing, Kawaguchi explained the Hayabusa2 objective as “vengeance” for the failures of that objective.

Significantly, Hayabusa2 is fitted with more than one bullet– it’s in fact a three-chambered space-gun! That provides Hayabusa2 another 2 possibilities to kick up more particles from Ryugu and possibly get much more samples. Ryugu is anticipated to go back to Earth in 2020.

NASA’s own asteroid sample-retrieval objective, OSIRIS-REx, is presently in orbit around another possibly harmful asteroid referred to as Bennu It is anticipated to go back to Earth with a sample from that asteroid in 2023 and NASA will share those outcomes with its Japanese equivalents.