A Japanese spacecraft bombed an asteroid and it barely flinched

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The Hayabusa 2 spacecraft shot the asteroid Ryugu with a lump of copper in 2019

JAXA, University of Tokyo & collaborators

In 2019, Japan’s Hayabusa 2 spacecraft bombed the asteroid Ryugu, using explosives to shoot it with a 2.5-kilogram lump of copper to create an artificial crater. Scientists expected this impact to shake the ground, but its actual effect was far milder.

Images from Hayabusa 2 have shown that the surface of Ryugu has fewer small craters than we would expect for an asteroid of its size, which probably indicates that dust is being moved somehow to fill in …

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