Why does Hayabusa-2 shoot an asteroid

Why does Hayabusa-2 shoot an asteroid

Spacecraft is preparing to shoot an asteroid

No, this is not an operation to destroy or save the Earth. The Japanese probe is really planning to fire an asteroid once again, but its main goal is to collect valuable samples.

Mission Hayabusa-2

Why does Hayabusa-2 shoot an asteroid

Japanese probe successfully obtained Ryugu sample

The main goal of the spacecraft is to deliver asteroid samples to Earth. As an object, we chose a class-C type, namely, a 900-meter asteroid Ryugu, distant from us by 320 million km. Why precisely “class C”? The fact is that such objects are rich in carbon.

The spacecraft was launched to an asteroid in 2014 and performed a rapprochement in 2018th. The probe had to study an object from orbit for a long time. The first attempt at mining samples was planned for the fall, but the surface was more uneven than expected (a large number of boulders). Before the first shot, the probe managed to land two jumping rovers and the MASCOT module.

First shelling

Why does Hayabusa-2 shoot an asteroid

The Japanese spacecraft Hayabusa-2 took this photo immediately after February 21, 2019 extracted a sample from the surface of the asteroid Ryugu. The dark area near the probe's shadow is a landing place that could change color under the influence of the ship’s engines or a bullet ejected February 22 Hayabusa-2 made the first successful attempt. To do this, choose a relatively flat and clean 6-meter platform. The spacecraft has a special “suction” mechanism. For the first attack used a small projectile. The probe activated the engines and performed a descent to the surface (this was not a full landing), after which it made a shot and sucked in a rising cloud of dust.

It is important to understand that this is an incredibly complicated procedure. The probe does not sit on the surface, but only as close as possible to it in order to collect dust. Under microgravity conditions, any factor can disrupt the coordination of the ship or blow off dust before it enters a special collection chamber.

Why did you need a second shot?

Why does Hayabusa-2 shoot an asteroid

The first operation was successful. But why Hayabusa-2 is not sent to Earth with samples? The fact is that this is surface dust. It is believed that a more complex attempt will be made already in April. To do this, the probe again uses a gun, but with a heavier 2-kilogram charge. It is estimated that the speed of the shot of the projectile (disc, made of copper) should be 7.2 thousand km / h. The power of the shot is enough to create a crater and pick up rock samples hiding under the surface of the asteroid. Hayabusa-2 will need to perform a careful landing in the crater created to collect material. If everything goes smoothly, then in December 2020 earthly scientists will receive samples for further study.


Researchers are interested in samples, because we have a carbon-rich asteroid. In addition, such objects are considered “conserved” remnants of the formation of the solar system. A detailed study of the samples will allow us to better understand not only the history of the development of our system, but also the possible role of such asteroids in the origin of earthly life.

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