Artificial Crater On Ryugu Has Diameter Over 10m

Artificial crater on Ryugu has diameter over 10m

Japan's space agency says an artificial crater on the asteroid Ryugu has a diameter of more than 10 meters and a depth of 2 or 3 meters.

Officials of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, say they plan to judge by mid-June whether its Hayabusa2 space probe can land in or near the crater.

The probe made the first-ever artificial crater on an asteroid last month by using a small device called a carry-on impactor to fire a metal projectile into Ryugu's crust.

JAXA's analysis of images shot from above shows the crater's dimensions.

The agency says about 10 nearby craters with diameters of about 1 meter may have been created by fragments of the impactor.

JAXA is considering carrying out a second landing of the probe in or near the crater to collect rocks.

It plans to carry out up to three more rounds of observation of the terrain near the crater from above to see if such a landing is possible.

In the first round, scheduled for May 16, the probe would descend to an altitude of 10 meters and drop a landing target.

JAXA project manager Yuichi Tsuda says there's a need to take into account possible failure that could risk losing rocks the probe collected after its first landing.