Credit: JAXA


Japan’s Hayabusa2 spacecraft is nearing its next duty: Creating an artificial crater on the surface of asteroid Ryugu.

On April 5, the Small Carry-on Impactor (SCI) — a 4.4 pound (2 kilogram) copper lump called “Liner” will be dropped to the surface of the asteroid at a velocity of 2 km per second to make an artificial crater.

SCI pyrotechnics – A conical shape structure filled with explosives. The “Liner” will be ejected forward at a high speed by explosive power.
Credit: JAXA

The intent is to expose a fresh surface by the impactor. Asteroid material excavated from the crater will be observed by remote sensing instruments, and a subsurface fresh sample of the asteroid will be collected there.

Ejecta curtain

The SCI impact experiment will be observed by a Deployable CAMera 3-D at a distance of roughly one kilometer from the impact point, and the time evolution of the ejecta curtain will be observed by this camera to confirm the impact point on the asteroid’s surface.

Credit: JAXA

After SCI separation, an onboard timer triggers the explosion. Meanwhile, Hayabusa-2 is to maneuver away from the space rock, spending more than two weeks away from the asteroid, positioning itself at a safe distance to avoid ejecta floating around the asteroid.

Follow-on duty

According to Hayabusa2 officials, at a later date, touchdown of the spacecraft at or around the generated crater will be attempted, a follow-on duty to collect subsurface material.

However, if the condition of the surface of Ryugu is dangerous for touchdown, the touchdown will not be attempted.

Leave a Reply