Japan to Launch Asteroid Blasting Space Cannon Later This Month
The Rosetta Philae lander safely landed on a comet yesterday as the world watched with bated breath, demonstrating that space exploration has once again captivated the public's consciousness. So what's the next insane space technology event to look forward to? The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has stepped up to the plate, as they are scheduled to launch their insane Hayabusa 2 later this month, a "space cannon" that will literally blast a crater into an asteroid.
This new version of the Hayabusa (which means "falcon" in Japanese), is the successor to the original Hayabusa, which brought the first asteroid samples back to Earth in 2010. In less than three weeks, it will be slingshot into space on a rocket in order to mine an asteroid. It will do a swingby past Earth sometime in 2015 and spend the next four years traveling to the asteroid. Upon arrival, it will shoot a metal bullet from a cannon at the asteroid, obliterating the crust and creating an artificial crater before collecting material ejected from the blast. The researchers hope that the asteroid samples will reach Tokyo for further study by 2020.
If the mission is successful, then the Hayabusa 2 will only be the third spacecraft to land on an asteroid. It is intended to shed light on the composition of asteroids, which could lead to further insight on the origin of asteroids and similar extraterrestrial structures. The resulting data could also improve the efficiency of asteroid exploration technologies.
JAXA plans to live stream the launch, which is scheduled for November 30.