Some space mining is set to take place, courtesy of Japan’s Hayabusa 2 spacecraft.
The news: Touchdown on the 3,000-foot-wide Ryugu asteroid is planned for February 22 at 8 a.m. local time in Japan. Then comes the bullets: Hayabusa 2 will fire into the asteroid to create dust and particles that the device can gather up with its sampling arm. Two shots will be fired initially; a larger projectile will be shot later this year to stir up additional material.
A rocky start: The craft’s landing on Ryugu was supposed to happen last October, but it was discovered the surface of the asteroid was covered in larger gravel than the team had expected. To make sure the collection system would still work, the researchers performed some experiments back here on Earth—they fired a bullet into gravel using spare launchers that were made during the manufacturing of the space-bound one (see the image above).
Why it matters: The spacecraft’s precursor, the Hayabusa, is the only spacecraft to date to have collected material from an asteroid and returned it to Earth. This newer craft will provide more detailed measurements, building on the knowledge established by the original. The Hayabusa 2 will return to Earth in late 2020 with the samples from Ryugu.
Want to stay up to date with space tech news? Sign up for our newsletter, The Airlock.
This new data poisoning tool lets artists fight back against generative AI
The tool, called Nightshade, messes up training data in ways that could cause serious damage to image-generating AI models.
Rogue superintelligence and merging with machines: Inside the mind of OpenAI’s chief scientist
An exclusive conversation with Ilya Sutskever on his fears for the future of AI and why they’ve made him change the focus of his life’s work.
The Biggest Questions: What is death?
New neuroscience is challenging our understanding of the dying process—bringing opportunities for the living.
Data analytics reveal real business value
Sophisticated analytics tools mine insights from data, optimizing operational processes across the enterprise.
Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review
Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.