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Japan to Drop Explosive to Make Crater on Asteroid to Collect Samples from Inside

Hayabusa2 made history on Feb. 22 when it successfully touched down on the boulder-rich asteroid, where it also collected some surface fragments

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FILE - In this Feb. 22, 2019, file photo, this image released by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) shows the shadow, center above, of the Hayabusa2 spacecraft after its successful touchdown on the asteroid Ryugu. VOA

Japan’s space agency said Monday that its Hayabusa2 spacecraft will follow up last month’s touchdown on a distant asteroid with another risky mission — to drop an explosive to make a crater and collect underground samples to get possible clues to the origin of the solar system.

Hayabusa2 made history on Feb. 22 when it successfully touched down on the boulder-rich asteroid, where it also collected some surface fragments.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency said Hayabusa2 is to drop a copper impactor the size of a baseball and weighing 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds) on the asteroid on April 5 to collect samples from deeper underground where they had not been exposed to the sun or space rays.

The new mission will require an immediate evacuation of the spacecraft to the other side of the asteroid so it won’t get hit by flying shards from the blast, JAXA said. While moving away, Hayabusa2 will leave a camera to capture the outcome.

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JAXA has previously planned to have Hayabusa2 briefly touchdown in a crater, but an agency researcher, Takashi Kubota, said they may not force it to prioritize safety for the spacecraft. VOA

The mission will allow JAXA scientists to analyze details of a crater to find out the history of the asteroid, said Koji Wada, who is in charge of the project.

Hayabusa2 will start descending toward the asteroid the day before to carry out the mission from its home position of 20 kilometers (12 miles) above. It will drop a cone-shaped piece of equipment containing explosives that will blast off a copper plate on the bottom. It will turn into a ball and slam into the asteroid at the speed of 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) per second.

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JAXA has previously planned to have Hayabusa2 briefly touchdown in a crater, but an agency researcher, Takashi Kubota, said they may not force it to prioritize safety for the spacecraft. Kubota said it would be the first time a spacecraft would take materials from underground a space object.

The asteroid, named Ryugu after an undersea palace in a Japanese folktale, is about 900 meters (3,000 feet) in diameter and about 300 million kilometers (180 million miles) from Earth. (VOA)

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Japan’s 2018 Greenhouse Emissions Lowest in Two Decades: Report

The Japanese government aims to tackle this problem by introducing new regulations in 2020 to strengthen control over the disposal of hydroflurocarbon-using equipment

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Wind Energy
Low-cost renewable energy technologies like Wind Energy are readily-available today, representing the most effective and immediate solution for reducing carbon emissions. Pixabay

Japan in 2018 recorded its lowest greenhouse gas emissions in two decades thanks to a warm winter and increased generation of nuclear power, according to data released on Friday.

However, the country still has a long way to go to reach its Paris Agreement goal, Efe news reported.

In 2018, total carbon dioxide emissions were recorded at 1.24 billion tons, a year-on-year decrease of 3.6 per cent and the lowest figure since data compilation began in 1990, according to the preliminary figures released by the Japanese Ministry of Environment.

The previous low was recorded in 2009 with 1.25 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide.

Although this is the fifth consecutive year of dropping emissions, the ministry acknowledged that a lot remained to be done to achieve the 2030 goal of 26 percent cut in emissions from the 2013 levels a target set under the Paris climate agreement.

From 2013 to 2018, Japan’s cumulative reduction in greenhouse gas emissions has been 11.8 percent, according to the government’s figures published a week before the 2019 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Madrid.

U.S., Pentagon, Greenhouse Gases
FILE – Air pollution hangs over the skyline as the sun rises over Beijing’s central business district, Jan. 14, 2013. VOA

The government said the main factors that contributed to the reduction were the decreasing production in power stations that use fossil fuels and gradual return to energy generation through nuclear plants.

Japan established a stricter safety framework following a nuclear standstill after the 2011 Fukushima accident.

Although the approval to reactivate was given in 2017, it was not until 2018 that the plants started functioning.

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Household emissions fell by 10 percent in 2018 due to increased use of energy-saving appliances and a warm winter which led to lower usage of heating systems during the season.

However, an increased use of air conditioners caused a 9.4 percent rise in hydrofluorocarbons emissions and other similar compounds.

The Japanese government aims to tackle this problem by introducing new regulations in 2020 to strengthen control over the disposal of hydroflurocarbon-using equipment. (IANS)