The Grapevine

Japan’s Space Agency Bombing Asteroid, Targeting Moon For Next Space Endeavors

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is looking into ways to better understand the universe. For its next space endeavors, Japan’s space agency is carefully planning its ultimate Moon rover and it is also bombing a distant asteroid. 

Last week, JAXA announced its collaboration with Toyota for a very futuristic, off-road, lunar vehicle that could be launched into space 10 years from today. The two are said to be working on a huge, pressurized rover that can accommodate up to four people in emergency cases but is ideally designed for two astronauts, according to

The space exploration vehicle is described to be at least 20 feet or 6 meters long, 17 feet or 5.2 meters wide and 12.4 feet or 3.8 meters high. It is going to sport six wheels and will feature approximately 140 square feet of living space.

According to JAXA, Toyota’s lunar vehicle is going to be powered by fuel cells that can last for up to 6,213 miles or 10,000 kilometers. One of the concept designs for the Moon rover suggests that it is going to look like a very advanced car that still features headlights, running lights and even brake lights. 

Officials of Japan’s space agency said that JAXA and Toyota have been working on this project since May 2018. They also admitted that building this type of advanced sports utility vehicle wouldn’t be easy because there are challenges and factors that they need to consider. 

“Lunar gravity is one-sixth of that on Earth. Meanwhile, the moon has a complex terrain with craters, cliffs, and hills. Moreover, it is exposed to radiation and temperature conditions that are much harsher than those on Earth, as well as an ultra-high vacuum environment,” JAXA vice president and astronaut Koichi Wakata said in a press release.

Meanwhile, Japan’s space agency has decided to bomb a distant asteroid to form a crater and collect underground samples from it next month. CTV News reported Monday that Japan’s Hayabusa2 spacecraft is scheduled to drop a copper impactor on asteroid Ryugu, which is situated about 300 million kilometers from Earth, on April 5. 

Hayabusa2 touched down on Ryugu on Feb. 22 and Japanese scientists believe that by forming a crater to collect samples from inside the asteroid, they would be able to trace the space rock’s history and better understand the origin of the solar system. 

The mission is very risky because the explosion could cause shards of the asteroid to fly in all directions. Hence, careful calculation is being done on the timing of the drop and the immediate evacuation of the spacecraft from Ryugu.