Japan creates world's first artificial crater on asteroid
Japan on Thursday created a man-made crater on an asteroid -- an achievement believed to have considerable scientific and strategic significance.
According to Japanese Kyodo news agency, country's Hayabusa2 space probe shot a projectile at the Ryugu asteroid around 340 million kilometers from Earth, as part of the probe's mission, to explore the origin of life and the evolution of the solar system. The operation was considered to be one of the most difficult for the probe to accomplish.
"The asteroid's terrain has clearly been altered," said Yuichi Tsuda, an associate professor at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).
Launched in December 2014 from the Tanegashima Space Center in southwestern Japan, Hayabusa2 reached Ryugu last June. It touched down in February to collect surface samples and found hydrated minerals that will help scientists determine whether asteroids brought water to Earth as hypothesized.
In terms of scientific research, the step is believed to probe life of solar system, as the asteroids like Ryugu are seen holding the preserved traces of the time, when the solar system was born.