Depending on what sort of cataclysmic science you subscribe to, Planet Earth could be in some serious danger.
It’s easy to forget down here, between our car washes and haircuts, that we are living on a rock that is traveling through space at roughly 1,000 mph.
Oh, and those bi-annual meteor showers? It’s not so much a “return of the meteors” thing so much as it is “here goes earth, plowing through a meteor field” sort of situation. Earth has plenty of close calls with these celestial bodies pretty much every single day…so what happens when once finally has us square in her sights?
Well, being able to successfully land a manmade object on the surface would be a good start, and Japanese scientists have done just that this week, and with a little extra firepower as well.
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Japan’s space agency said an explosive dropped Friday from its Hayabusa2 spacecraft successfully blasted the surface of an asteroid for the first time to form a crater and pave the way for the collection of underground samples for possible clues to the origin of the solar system.
Friday’s mission was the riskiest for Hayabusa2 because it had to immediately move away so it wouldn’t get hit by flying shards from the blast.
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, said Hayabusa2 dropped a small explosive box which sent a copper ball the size of a baseball slamming into the asteroid, and that data confirmed the spacecraft had safely evacuated and remained intact. JAXA later confirmed the impact from images transmitted from a camera left behind by the spacecraft which showed the impactor being released and fine particles later spraying dozens of meters (yards) out from a spot on the asteroid.
Once the dust settles, Hayabusa2 will return to the spot to collect samples for Japanese scientist to study.
To make the feat ever more impressive, it should be noted that this is all taking place more than 180 million miles away from Earth.
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