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Ep. 36, Page 24
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Comic 2801 - Ep. 36, Page 24

21st Feb 2019, 9:51 PM in Episode 36 :: Save My Place | Load My Place
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Author Notes:

smbhax 21st Feb 2019, 9:51 PM edit delete
Japan's Hayabusa-2 probe has just landed (BBC) on near-Earth asteroid Ryugu (Wikipedia) and fired its tantalum (Wikipedia: a hard, high-melting-point metal) bullet into its surprisingly gravel-like surface, which should have knocked some of the asteroid's surface material into the gathering "bell" mechanism at the bottom of the probe, for return to Earth in 2020.

This maneuver was originally set to take place in October, but the team had to redraw it after they found that Ryugu's surface, rather than being kind of smooth and dusty like other known near-Earth asteroids, is actually strewn with large boulders—so they had to narrow their landing field down from about 100m to 6m. They seem to have pulled it off, though.

And Hayabasa-2 isn't quite done with Ryugu yet: in spring it is due to blow a hole in the asteroid's surface, hop inside, and pick up some of the interior material freed by the explosion. : o

Here's an updating NY Times article with loads of cool photos from Ryugu.