Space probe Hayabusa 2 breaks up pieces of Asteroid Ryugu - view

Takashi Kubota research director of Institute of Space and Astornautical Science Takanao Saeki Hayabusa2 Project team engineer Yuichi Tsuda team manager Fuyuto Terui Hayabusa2 Project team member and Makoto Yoshikawa team mission manager

Watch: Japan's Hayabusa-2 Is 'Bombing' Asteroid Ryugu to Make a Crater

"These particular asteroids are the precursors to what Earth was made from", Connolly says.

The risky part about Hayabusa2's mission was that the spacecraft needed to quickly move out of the way after dropping the explosive designed to create a crater on the asteroid's surface. Fortunately, Hayabusa2 moved right in time and nothing bad happened. "It is highly likely to have made a crater".

The SCI is a 2 kilogram (4.41 pound) copper lump which was sacked toward the asteroid at a speed of 2 km per second (4,473 mph).

JAXA plans to send Hayabusa2 back to the site after dust and debris settle, for observations from above and to collect samples from underground that have not been exposed to the sun or space rays.

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. In addition to the sample-collection and SCI activities, the probe has studied the asteroid in detail and released two hopping minirovers and a 22-lb. "We could not have asked for more", he said.

Members of The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, seen on screen, celebrate, as Hayabusa2 spacecraft safely evacuated and remained intact after the blast, in Sagamihara, near Tokyo, Friday, April 5, 2019.

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Hayabusa2 is scheduled to leave the asteroid at the end of the year and return to Earth with underground samples by the end of 2020.

In February it successfully fired a "bullet" into the asteroid to disturb material from its exterior, which then floated from its surface due to the weak gravitational field.

A live webcast of the mission room on the southern island of Tanegashima showed Jaxa staff applauding as the probe successfully completed each stage of the most critical phase of its mission so far. It may even land a second time to collect subsurface samples.

The impactor was programmed to explode 40 minutes later, propelling the copper bottom towards Ryugu, where it should gouge a crater into the surface of the asteroid that spins 300 million kilometres from Earth.

After that task is complete, all that's left for Hayabusa2 to do is head back to Earth, carrying with it precious souvenirs of the space rock it will have spent a year and a half studying. For now, it has provided a picture of the detached explosive, taken with Hayabusa2's onboard camera.

"One thing I'm pretty sure of is that it will throw up some unexpected results", said Bridges, who believes that information from Ryugu samples could make us think again about the early evolution of the solar system.

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