The gun, developed by Honeybee Robotics, is going to be used to test the strength of asteroids including other space rocks, as a means to determine if a mass is durable enough to be sampled. This kind of gun operates by dislodging chunks in asteroids that are out of orbit and then bring them closer to the moon, which will allow them to be accessed by scientists. They can then identify the strength of any space rock once it is within reach. By firing a bullet at its surface, physicists can then figure out the solidity of a rock by measuring the speed of its rebound.
The ability to characterize samples from asteroids is a key step to sending humans to explore Mars. “Collecting and characterizing samples from asteroids is an important science goal in itself, and NASA has identified it as a key step toward human exploration of Mars,” said Kris Zacny, Vice President of Honeybee Robotics.