US, WASHINGTON (ORDO NEWS) — From the spacecraft of the Japan Aerospace Agency Hayabusa-2 (Hayabusa 2), a copper cannonball was released a little more than a tennis ball in the direction of an asteroid called Ryugu near the Earth, and this was done in order to obtain data about it composition, CNN employee Jack Guy.
Almost a year later, scientists were able to analyze the data obtained on the basis of photographs taken by this device and learn more about this asteroid, located at a distance of more than 314 million kilometers (195 million miles) from Earth.
The Hayabusa-2 spacecraft was equipped with an all-metal shock Small Carry-on Impactor filled with plastic explosive. His task was to create an artificial crater on this asteroid using an explosion.
According to the Japan Aerospace Research Agency, after placing the shock charge in the asteroid’s orbit, the Hayabusa-2 was withdrawn to a safe distance from the site of the alleged explosion.
He also launched a small DCAM3 camera into independent orbit, which was supposed to photograph the moment of the explosion. This camera was located about half a mile from the asteroid.
According to the latest data, experts now know that as a result of the explosion on the surface of the asteroid, a crater with a width of about 10 meters (33 feet) was formed. After the explosion, a train of small particles also appeared, which was captured in detail by the camera.
A report on this experiment was published Thursday in the journal Science. Another report on the composition of the asteroid Ryugu on Monday published the journal Nature.
According to the researchers, the resulting crater was a semicircle with a high edge, a central depression and several asymmetric parts. In their opinion, the asymmetric parts were formed due to the rather large stone located under the crater.
Based on the data obtained as a result of the explosion, experts also believe that the Ryugu asteroid consists, inter alia, of material resembling loose earth sand.
The train formed as a result of the explosion did not ultimately completely separate from the surface of the asteroid. According to experts, this happened due to the presence of gravity on the asteroid.
Ryugu is an asteroid of a dark spectral class, its head part resembles a spinning top in shape, and its width is approximately 914 meters. Its surface is covered with large stones. In addition, it is incredibly dry.
The photos taken by the spacecraft allow us to talk about the uniform distribution of dark and rough stones, as well as light and smooth ones. Scientists believe that these two types of materials exist on the asteroid, because it seems to have formed from the small remnants of a larger asteroid colliding with another celestial body.
These stones look like carbon chondrites, which are primitive meteorites. Some stones contain small amounts of colored material, the so-called inclusions, and olivine may be contained therein. This substance has also been found in carbon chondrites.
Specialists from the journal Nature found that this asteroid mainly consists of a very porous substance. This may explain the fact that carbon-rich meteorites are rarely found on Earth, because our atmosphere protects us and causes them to crumble into pieces.
These data were obtained using the MASCOT (Mobile Asteroid Surface SCOuT) lander.
“Fragile, very porous asteroids like Ryugu may be the link in the evolution of cosmic dust and its transformation into massive celestial bodies,” said Matthias Grott, author of this project and expert at the Institute for Planetary Research of the German Aerospace Center ( German Aerospace Center’s Institute of Planetary Research). – This closes the gap in our understanding of the process of planet formation. Because before we had almost no opportunity to detect such materials in meteorites found on Earth. ”
Scientists believe that the high porosity of asteroids with a high carbon content may be similar to planetesimals, that is, to the material from which the planets of our solar system were formed.
The asteroids themselves, which are the remnants of the formation of the solar system, can shed light on the early stages of planet formation. Unfortunately, astronomers cannot directly access this kind of data. They can only create models based on the study of the solar system and meteorites.
“Therefore, research in this area depends mainly on extraterrestrial material that comes to the Earth from the depths of the solar system in the form of meteorites,” said Jörn Helbert, one of the authors of this project and the head of research programs at the Institute for Planetary Research of the German Aerospace Center .
“In addition, we need missions such as Hayabusa-2 to visit the small cosmic bodies formed in the early stages of the formation of the solar system, and the data obtained in this way allow us to confirm, supplement or, after making appropriate observations, refute the proposed models.”
Hayabusa-2 separated from the asteroid Ryugu in December 2019. He will return to Earth at the end of 2020. On board is a valuable cargo, including samples collected from two places on this asteroid, and all these data will be analyzed by specialists.
If he returns to Earth in accordance with the plan, this will be the first successful case of the delivery of samples of matter from class C asteroids, which had not yet been investigated using descent vehicles. Class C asteroids are the most common and make up 75% of the total.
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