Apr 5, 2019

A Japanese spacecraft just bombed an asteroid

The Asteroid Ryugu seen by Hayabusa2 in September 2018. Photo: JAXA

Japan's Hayabusa2 spacecraft successfully sent a bomb down to the surface of Asteroid Ryugu on Thursday, paving the way for scientific studies of the space rock's interior.

Why it matters: If the bomb did explode as expected, creating an artificial crater on the asteroid, scientists will be able to get a sense of what the rock is comprised of beyond just its irradiated surface. If the area is deemed safe, Hayabusa2 will move in to possibly land at or near the site of the artificial crater to collect a sample of the blasted material for eventual return to Earth next year.

Details: In order to protect the mothership from the blast, Hayabusa2 flew behind the asteroid after dropping the copper bomb, according to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), but a secondary camera was deployed in order to check out the moment the experiment — called the Small Carry-on Impactor (SCI) — went off.

  • "After the start of the operation, the camera (DCAM3) separated from Hayabusa2 captured an image that shows ejection from Ryugu’s surface, which implies that the SCI had functioned as planned," JAXA said in a statement. "Hayabusa2 is operating normally. We will be providing further information once we have confirmed whether a crater has been created on Ryugu."

Background: Hayabusa2 has been studying asteroid Ryugu since last year, after launching to the space rock in 2014. The hardworking space probe already collected one sample of the asteroid in February and made history in 2018 when it sent robotic probes to the surface. The spacecraft is designed to help scientists learn more about the origins of the solar system as asteroids are thought to be bits of debris left behind after the formation of the planets.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

NYC races to build field hospitals as coronavirus death toll tops 1,000

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announces at the USTA Bille Jean King tennis center that the venue will be transformed into a 350-bed temporary hospital. Photo: Bryan R. Smith/AFP via Getty Images

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio detailed plans at a news briefing Tuesday to turn buildings and facilities into makeshift hospitals across the Big Apple — including U.S. open tennis courts.

The big picture: New York City now accounts for a quarter of all deaths from the novel coronavirus in the U.S. — more than 1,000 as of Wednesday morning. De Blasio said the city had "about 20,000 working hospital beds in our major hospitals" before the outbreak. Officials need to triple that number in the coming weeks.

Go deeperArrow18 mins ago - Health

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 12:30 a.m. ET: 859,556 — Total deaths: 42,332 — Total recoveries: 178,300.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in confirmed cases. Total confirmed cases as of 12:30 a.m. ET: 189,510 — Total deaths: 4,076 — Total recoveries: 7,109.
  3. Business updates: Should you pay your rent or mortgage during the coronavirus pandemic? Find out if you are protected under the CARES Act.
  4. Public health updates: More than 400 long-term care facilities across the U.S. report patients with coronavirus — Older adults and people with underlying health conditions are more at risk, new data shows.
  5. Federal government latest: President Trump said the next two weeks would be "very painful," with projections indicating the virus could kill 100,000–240,000 Americans.
  6. Coronavirus in custody: Inmates in all U.S. federal prisons are set to enter a 14-day quarantine on April 1. A federal judge on Tuesday ordered U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to release 10 detained immigrants who are at risk of contracting COVID-19 while in confinement.
  7. U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt: Captain of nuclear aircraft carrier docked in Guam pleaded with the U.S. Navy for more resources after more than 100 members of his crew tested positive.
  8. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

U.S. coronavirus updates: Death toll tops 4,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The novel coronavirus has now killed more than 4,000 people in the U.S. — with over 1,000 deaths reported in New York City alone, per Johns Hopkins data. The number of deaths are still much lower than those reported in Italy, Spain and China.

Of note: Hours earlier, President Trump noted it's "going to be a very painful two weeks," with projections indicating the novel coronavirus could kill 100,000–240,000 Americans — even with strict social distancing guidelines in place. "They are going to be facing a war zone," he said of medical workers.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Health