Hayabusa-2 Asteroid Cannon Strategy From 1950's SF Novel

Hayabusa-2, the new JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) asteroid explorer, was shown to the press in Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture this weekend. Its target asteroid is 1999 JU3, which, unlike asteroid Itokawa (targeted by the earlier probe named Hayabusa), contains carbon and water.

It makes use of a unique strategy.


(Hayabusa-2 with asteroid cannon)

Japanese space scientists have unveiled the asteroid hunting space probe they hope to launch later this year on a mission to mine a celestial body.

The probe, named Hayabusa-2, is expected to be flung into space on a rocket for a mammoth four-year voyage to the unpoetically-named 1999JU3 asteroid.

When it gets there, some time in 2018, it will release a powerful cannon which will fire a metal bullet at the asteroid's barren crust, once the probe itself has scuttled to safety on the far side of the rock.

It will then return to scoop up material uncovered by the cannon blast.

SF writer EC Tubb wrote about a similar strategy for determining the composition of asteroids in detail in his 1958 novel The Mechanical Monarch.

Fire streaked in a thin line from the muzzle of a cannon-like tube mounted beneath the viewing instruments and a tiny, rocket-powered projectile, drove towards the mysterious bulk. It hit, exploding into a cloud of incandescent vapour, and Wendis stared thoughtfully at the brilliant lines on the spectroscope screen.

"... the spectro shows traces of iron, some copper, a little tungsten and a lot of beryllium. Looks unnatural somehow, too much like an alloy."
(Read more about the Impactor Determines Composition)

Hayabusa-2 is slated to be launched later this year from JAXA’s Tanegashima Space Center in Kagoshima Prefecture

From Japan News and Straits Times.

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