The explosive mission is the riskiest yet conducted by the Japanese probe. AFP / JAXA
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A Japanese probe Friday launched an explosive device at an asteroid, aiming to blast a crater in the surface and scoop up material that could shed light on how the solar system evolved.Hayabusa2 successfully released the so-called "small carry-on impactor" -- a cone-shaped device capped with a copper bottom as scheduled, as the probe hovered 500 meters above the asteroid Ryugu.The impactor was programmed to explode 40 minutes later, propelling the copper bottom towards Ryugu, where it should gouge a crater into the surface of the asteroid that spins 300 million kilometers from Earth. The asteroid is thought to contain relatively large amounts of organic matter and water from some 4.6 billion years ago when the solar system was born.
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