A Japanese spacecraft deployed a heavy, explosive-packed copper plate toward the asteroid Ryugu in an attempt to create an artificial crater last night (April 4), but it’s still unclear how the dramatic operation went.
The Hayabusa2 spacecraft, which has been studying the 3,000-foot-wide (900 meters) Ryugu up close since last June, released a 4.4-lb. (2 kilograms) hunk of copper late last night, along with a camera known as DCAM3 to record this “Small Carry-on Impactor” (SCI) operation.
“The spacecraft state is normal and it was confirmed that the evacuation operation, the separation of the SCI and DCAM3 went as planned. The SCI separation and evacuation sequence were a success,” mission team members wrote on Twitter around 2 a.m. EDT (0600 GMT and 3 p.m. Japan time) today (April 5).