The cannon, to be carried by Japan's Hayabusa 2 spacecraft on a 2014 mission to an asteroid, was test-fired on Earth in the Japanese prefecture of Gifu, RT.com reported.
Hayabusa 2 will be equipped with the device designed to shoot at the surface of the asteroid from a distance of 100 yards with metal shell ammunition moving at a speed of more than a mile a second.
The goal is to create a small artificial crater on the asteroid's surface from which scientists can extract samples to reveal clues about the formation of cosmic bodies of this type, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency said.
Collecting samples from beneath the asteroid's surface will ensure acquiring "fresh samples that are less weathered by the space environment or heat," the agency said.
Hayabusa 2 is expected to reach its target -- a 1,000-yard-wide asteroid known as 1999 JU3 -- by the middle of 2018 before heading back to Earth in 2019.
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