Japan's space probe, operating on an asteroid, about 340 million miles from Earth, is preparing to study the interior of asteroids by creating an artificial battle crater.
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, announced on Monday that the Hayabusa2 probe will attempt to create the crater on the asteroid, called Ryugu, on April 5.
Hayabusa2 landed successfully on the asteroid on February 22. JAXA officials say the probe has probably collected stone samples as planned.
According to details from JAXA, the probe will loosen a unit called an "impact wheel" at a distance of approx. 500 meters from the asteroid.
The impactor will then drop 200 to 300 meters and burn off a metallic object at the surface at a speed of over 7,000 kilometers per hour to create a small crater-like indentation.
Hayabusa2 will have moved to the other side of the asteroid to avoid rocks and fragments of the slag as it hits the surface.
JAXA says it will monitor the crater-like area with a camera and other equipment. If possible, another probe landing on the asteroid will be attempted on or near the crater to collect samples of substances from within the asteroid.
A senior official described the operation as the first attempt at such a difficult task as the probe could be damaged from debris and flying stones.