Launched in December 2014, probe “Hayabusa-2” has reached the asteroid Ryugu in June last year and in October was almost ready to land on its surface. Action had to be postponed to 2019, as its surface was covered by loose soil, as previously assumed, and sharp rocks. Researchers have already solved most of the problems, and the approach to space object and attempt the collection of samples will take place February 22 — Japanese Agency JAXA has tested guns that will crush the hard stones into pieces.
Probe “Hayabusa-2” is forced to use a gun, so as to collect samples had no mechanical arms. The shell weight of 5 grams will be released at the time of contact of the spacecraft with the asteroid, the probe will make a revolution around the asteroid and collect the scattered dust and pebbles in a special trap. Unfortunately, to collect the regolith it is unlikely to work, because it on the surface of the asteroid may not be.
To make sure that the device really can break a hard surface, the researchers conducted a laboratory experiment. They built a vacuum chamber and poured into the artificial gravel, simulating the surface of the asteroid. The time of release of the projectile in the material was filmed on a camera with a high frame rate video can be viewed below.
The shot was able to break up and lift into the air sufficient to accomplish the mission, the number of stones. If the process will go well in the real world, the researchers intend to repeat the action with a massive projectile. The collected materials will then be passed to Earth, scientists hope to get the first in the history of clean samples of primordial matter in the Solar system.
The probe has already started the analysis of the chemical characteristics of the asteroid. To do this in September 2018, he landed on the surface of the devices of MINERVA-MINERVA and II1A-II1B with thermal and optical sensors. It is noteworthy that they move on the surface of the jumps — use the wheels on the asteroid due to the low gravity.
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