Hayabusa-2 Approaches Asteroid Ryugu

Hayabusa-2 spacecraft (Credit: Akihiro Ikeshita / JAXA)

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — On June 3, 2018, ion engine operation was completed and the final approach to the asteroid begun. By photographing the asteroid with the Optical Navigation Camera, optical navigation (precisely “hybrid navigation using optical and radiometric observations”) can be used to approach Ryugu while accurately estimating the trajectory of the spacecraft and asteroid.

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Mechanism Underlying Size-Sorting of Rubble on Asteroid Itokawa Revealed

Asteroid Itokawa (Credit: JAXA)

By Greta Keenan
Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology

In 2005, the Hayabusa spacecraft developed by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) landed on Itokawa, a small near-Earth asteroid named after the famous Japanese rocket scientist Hideo Itokawa. The aim of the unmanned mission was to study the asteroid and collect a sample of material to be returned to Earth for analysis. Contrary to scientific predictions that small asteroids are barren nuggets of rock, photographs taken by the Hayabusa spacecraft revealed that the surface of Itokawa is strewn with different sized particles. Even more puzzling was the lateral separation of small and large particles – with large boulders occupying the highlands and small pebbles occupying the lowlands.

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Hayabusa-2 Asteroid Mission Postponed Until Wednesday

Hayabusa-2 (Credit: JAXA)
Hayabusa-2 (Credit: JAXA)

Editor’s Note: There has been another launch delay to Wednesday due to weather.

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) decided to launch the H-IIA Launch Vehicle No. 26 (H-IIA F26) with the Asteroid Explorer “Hayabusa2” onboard in the following schedule.

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