We now know what it looks like when a spacecraft lobs a bomb at an asteroid.
Earlier in April, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) directed its Hayabusa2 spacecraft to toss an explosive at the Ryugu asteroid from about 1,640 feet (500 meters) above its surface.
Now, JAXA has released a video of the launch taken from the spacecraft's perspective – and while the craft takes cover before impact, the video still provides a stunningly detailed look at the asteroid's surface.
This video shows the descent of the SCI (Small Carry-on Impactor) made from images captured at 2 second intervals just after separation from Hayabusa2 by the onboard TIR (Thermal Infrared Camera). In the background, you can see the surface of Ryugu 500m away. pic.twitter.com/O5niPDb2XI— [email protected] (@haya2e_jaxa) April 21, 2019
According to a European Space Agency press release, the researchers behind the mission expect the bombing will have created a "distinctive crater" on Ryugu.
They hope to retrieve some of the subsurface material dislodged by the bombing so that they can analyze it on Earth after the spacecraft returns to terra firma.
The plan now is to send Hayabusa2 back to the scene of the asteroid bombing on Thursday to investigate and take images – so while we might not know what a bombed asteroid looks like right now, we might not have to wait long to find out.