TOKYO – Japan's space agency says its Hayabusa2 spacecraft has released an explosive onto an asteroid to make a crater on its surface and collect underground samples to find possible clues to the origin of the solar system.
Friday's mission is the riskiest for Hayabusa2, as it has to immediately get away so it won't get hit by flying shards from the blast.
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, says it has confirmed Hayabusa2 dropped a "small carry-on impactor" made of copper onto the asteroid Friday morning.
JAXA says it has confirmed Hayabusa2 safely evacuated and remained intact after the blast. JAXA is analyzing further details.
The asteroid, named Ryugu after an undersea palace in a Japanese folktale, is about 300 million kilometers (180 million miles) from Earth.