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Japan test fires asteroid 'space cannon'

Posted on Saturday, 26 October, 2013 | Comment icon 9 comments

Japan's Hayabusa spacecraft. Image Credit: J.R.C. Garry
The Japanese space agency is hoping to blast a hole in an asteroid to find out what it's made of.
The groundbreaking space weapon will be launched as part of the Hayabusa-2 spacecraft in 2014. The mission will see the probe rendezvous with asteroid 1999JU3 between Earth and Mars in 2018 before landing on it and scooping up samples to return for analysis.

The special 'space cannon' will blast a hole in the asteroid using a 4lb metal projectile to help expose samples of material for study. Engineers successfully test fired the device this week, an achievement that will put the mission on schedule for launch next year.

"An artificial crater that can be created by the device is expected to be a small one, a few meters in diameter, but ... by acquiring samples from the surface that is exposed by the collision, we can get fresh samples that are less weathered by the space environment or heat," the space agency said in a statement.

Japan's original Hayabusa mission successfully returned from its visit to the Itokawa asteroid in June 2010.

Source: Independent | Comments (9)

Tags: Japan, Asteroid, Hayabusa

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by CRIPTIC CHAMELEON on 26 October, 2013, 21:28
Hollrey shrit they might release KING GHIDORAH.
Comment icon #2 Posted by White Crane Feather on 28 October, 2013, 0:30
Seems like a waste. We have enough meteorites on earth to know what they are made of. We have insides of them that have survived entry. I have a nine ounce piece of the rarest meteorite on earth myself. My conspiracy mind says they are practicing attaching rockets to space rocks to have a weapon. If I were a military strategist, I would gain control of space rocks long before my competition. I would also place emp capabilities inside of all satellites and put them in geo synchronic orbit over everyone. It would be easy as pie to shut the lights off to any country with a flip of a switch beca... [More]
Comment icon #3 Posted by promKing on 28 October, 2013, 8:51
Why not better make a huge canon that would shoot stuff into space? That would be much cheaper way to send stuff into space.
Comment icon #4 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 28 October, 2013, 10:05
No we don't actually. Meteorites are not in pristine condition. They have suffered from re-entry into the atmosphere and may have been exposed to Earth conditions for years. Retrieving a piece of an asteroid in situ will give us material unaltered since the formation of the solar system. "Conspiracy mind" says it all. Because using asteroids as weapons would be a cheap alternative to nuclear weapons... oh wait, it wouldn't. It would be prohibitively expensive and totally impractical as either a first strike weapon, as every nation on Earth would see what you were doi... [More]
Comment icon #5 Posted by Frank Merton on 28 October, 2013, 10:08
I think it would be hard to make stuff that could tolerate that kind of acceleration.
Comment icon #6 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 28 October, 2013, 10:12
Whilst not impossible there are problems with space guns. The first problem is that you subject the projectile to huge g-forces, which means you would destroy any delicate electronics at launch and you certainly couldn't launch crewed vehicles that way. The second is that you would have to achieve orbital (or near orbital) speed in the lower atmosphere. Rockets climb slowly until they are clear of much of the atmosphere and then accelerate more rapidly, this is deliberate. Travelling at 17,000 mph inside the atmosphere causes a huge amount of frictional heating and would require a lar... [More]
Comment icon #7 Posted by Ugly1 on 28 October, 2013, 21:47
I think this is very interesting but the title of this thread needs to be changed slightly. The headline should be changed from Japan test fires Asteroid "Space Cannon", to Japan test fires "Asteroid" Space Cannon.
Comment icon #8 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 28 October, 2013, 22:06
The title is perfectly correct. Source: Since the word "asteroid" is used in the usual way, but "space cannon" is an unusual usage the quotation marks are used correctly in the title. Placing the quotation marks around the word asteroid would make no sense. Now can we get back on topic.
Comment icon #9 Posted by promKing on 29 October, 2013, 8:02
So long Gerald Bull and your dreams of space cannon.

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