(ORDO NEWS) — Due to the release of explosives, a crater with a diameter of 15 meters was formed on the asteroid Ryugu and about two hundred new boulders appeared. Some of them were scattered at a distance of 40 meters from the epicenter of the explosion. Kobe University writes about this on its website.
“Our observations of what happens to the surface of an asteroid after small celestial bodies fall on them will help to test computer simulations that calculate the consequences of asteroid collisions. It will also help to better prepare for similar experiments that are planned, in particular, within the DART mission, “the scientists write.
Ryugu is a relatively small (about a kilometer in diameter) near-Earth asteroid from the Apollo group. It was discovered in 1999, and in the 21st century it was chosen as a target for the Hayabusa-2 spacecraft. He must deliver soil samples from an asteroid to Earth.
The probe was sent into space in early December 2014; it reached the asteroid in July 2018. In April 2019, the device dropped explosives onto the surface of an asteroid to collect the resulting debris and send them to Earth.
After the explosion, a new crater with a diameter of about 15 meters appeared on the surface of Ryugu. In July last year, Hayabusa-2 made another rendezvous with the asteroid’s surface and collected soil samples from this crater.
The study of this man-made crater did not end there. In the weeks and months that followed, Hayabusa-2 cameras photographed the landing zone, tracking how the explosion had changed it.
Scientists have figured out that, unlike the relatively fresh craters on the surface of the Moon and Mars, the layer of ejected soil at the edge of the crater on Ryugu was unusually thin. Comparing the new pictures with the photographs of the landing zone before the bomb was dropped, the scientists found out the reason: it turned out that a significant part of the “missing” matter was made up of boulders of various sizes.
According to estimates of planetary scientists, about two hundred of them were formed. Among them, scientists found relatively large boulders with a diameter of 30 cm or more, and small stones 3-5 cm in size. Scientists’ calculations show that the blast wave threw many of them four tens of meters from the crater.
Seismic vibrations, which arose due to the explosion, displaced the already existing stones, including rather large boulders with a diameter of about a meter. The explosion threw some of them several meters away from the crater. This was due both to the action of the explosion and to the deformation of the soil and the collision of existing and new stones.
Arakawa and his colleagues hope that these data, as well as the theoretical models built on their basis, will help scientists more accurately predict the consequences of asteroid collisions, as well as how quickly their surface changes as a result of impacts of micrometeorites and other small objects.
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