What do the Space Battle Yamato, the Super-Dimensional Fortress Macross and the Hayabusa-2 space module in common? They all have giant space cannons, or at least all they will shortly. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has tested a weapon which they will add to the module and launch next year.
This cannon won't be used to attack space pirates or fend off invasions of giant aliens — yet —but instead be used to blast an asteroid, and that primarily for research purposes. From Geek:
[JAXA] will use the weapon to gather extensive data about the composition of asteroid 1999JU3 that could not be obtained by simply scanning the undisturbed surface. ... This is essentially a kinetic impact weapon that relies on an explosive charge to launch a 4lb slug into the surface. ...
The detonation will be triggered remotely before Hayabusa-2 circles back to the impacted side of the body. After the damage is done, the probe will land and scoop up debris from the impact to bring back to Earth.
1999JU3 is a 1000 meter C-type asteroid that interests scientists mainly because it is thought to have been altered very little since the formation of the solar system. Researchers hope to find water and organic material from the early solar system in the material gathered from 1999JU3. This data could shed light on how planets form and life arises.
While the research is great, I'm just happy we'll have a functional asteroid blaster up there. Question: How long do you think before Japan mounts this cannon in the arm of a space-faring robot? Fifteen years? Twenty? As you can tell from the demo video above, it already has its own ridiculous music theme.