Asteroids are able to be the real information mines of the universe, so many scientists are working on systems that would allow their samples to be sampled. One such project also deals with the Japanese.
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has successfully tested the gun, which is part of the Hayabusa Space Project 2, for rock sampling. The unit installed in Gifu prefecture has just undergone a first test run, and its launch is scheduled for next year.
The project, however, is not intended to break up the asteroid, but to acquire the knowledge of C-type asteroids, which according to scientists contain a high concentration of organic material and are therefore called lifebloods. The aim of the researchers is to take samples from such asteroid for testing. This will be the already mentioned Hayabusa 2 spacecraft, which will be equipped with a special cannon firing metal cylinders – their task is to break openings in the rock, from where they will take the samples needed.
Hayabusa 2 is scheduled for next year. After launching, the ship will head towards the 1999JU3 asteroid, which will arrive in 2018. Upon arriving at the mission’s destination, the vehicle will level up with the asteroid and leave its surface active. After detonating and piercing the rock crust, Hayabusa 2 will be able to collect samples of the material and then deliver it to Earth, which will return around 2020.
Scientists hope that the project will learn a little more about the origin of life on the planets.