Two Pieces of a Cosmic Puzzle: Hayabusa2 and OSIRIS-REx

Originally published by OSIRIS-REx Mission/University of Arizona
Republished with permission

It began with dust. Before there were asteroids, or planets, or people – about 4.6 billion years ago – a cloud of dust and gas swirled in the cosmos. At the center, a star began to form.

With heat and shock waves, clumps of this ancient dust coalesced into droplets of molten rock called chondrules. These chondrules and dust became the building blocks of the Solar System. Eventually, chunks of material as large as asteroids, and even planets, formed from this cloud and organized according to the laws of physics around a newly born star: our Sun.


Hayabusa2 Arrives at Asteroid Ryugu

Asteroid Ryugu photographed by Japan’s Hayabusa2 spacecraft. (Credit: JAXA, University of Tokyo and collaborators)

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — JAXA confirmed Hayabusa2, JAXA’s asteroid explorer rendezvoused with Ryugu, the target asteroid.

On June 27, 2018, JAXA operated Hayabusa2 chemical propulsion thrusters for the spacecraft’s orbit control.*

The confirmation of the Hayabusa2 rendezvous made at 9:35 a.m. (Japan Standard Time, JST) is based on the following data analyses;

  • ・The thruster operation of Hayabusa2 occurred nominally
  • ・The distance between Hayabusa2 and Ryugu is approximately 20 kilometers
  • ・Hayabusa2 is able to maintain a constant distance to asteroid Ryugu
  • ・The status of Hayabusa2 is normal

From this point, we are planning to conduct exploratory activities in the vicinity of the asteroid, including scientific observation of asteroid Ryugu and surveying the asteroid for sample collection.

*Hayabusa2 operation hours: 7:00 a.m. (JST) through 3:00 p.m. (JST), June 27. The thruster operation was pre-programmed in the event sequence earlier on the day and the command was automatically executed.

Hayabusa2 has Detected Ryugu

The first image of asteroid Ryugu from Hayabusa2. (Credit: JAXA)

TOKYO, March 1, 2018 (JAXA PR) — On February 26, 2018, Hayabusa2 saw its destination -asteroid Ryugu- for the first time! The photographs were captured by the ONC-T (Optical Navigation Camera – Telescopic) onboard the spacecraft. Images were taken on February 26th.

The distance between Ryugu and Hayabusa2 when the images were taken is about 1.3 million km. Ryugu as seen from Hayabusa2 is in the direction of the constellation Pisces.

“Now that we see Ryugu, the Hayabusa2 project has shifted to the final preparation stage for arrival at the asteroid. There are no problems with the route towards Ryugu or the performance of the spacecraft, and we will be proceeding with maximum thrust,” explains Project Manager, Yuichi Tsuda.

The ONC-T was developed under collaboration between JAXA, the University of Tokyo, Kochi University, Rikkyo University, Nagoya University, Chiba Institute of Technology, Meiji University, The University of Aizu, the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST).

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Missions to Moon, Mars, Mercury & More Set for 2018

This artist’s concept shows the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft passing by Earth. (Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/University of Arizona)

Updated with SpaceX’s Red Tesla launch.

An international fleet of spacecraft will be launched in 2018 to explore the Moon, Mars, Mercury and the Sun. Two sample-return spacecraft will enter orbit around asteroids while a third spacecraft will be launched to search for asteroids that contain water that can be mined.

NASA will also launch its next exoplanet hunting spacecraft in March. And the space agency will ring in 2019 with the first ever flyby of a Kuiper Belt object.

And, oh yes, Elon Musk is launching his car in the direction of Mars.

Japan Plans Sample Return from Martian Moons

MMX on-orbit configuration (Credit: JAXA)

Japan is planning a complex mission that will study the moons of Mars and return soil samples to Earth.

Set for launch in September 2024, the Martian Moons Exploration (MMX) mission would spend three years exploring Phobos and Deimos before departing in August 2028 for a return to Earth 11 months later.


Deep Space Industries Selected for NASA SBIR Phase II Award

dsi_logoNASA has selected asteroid mining company Deep Space Industries for a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II award to continue work on developing and testing of asteroid soil simulants.

The project is aimed at producing “at least four asteroid simulants at high fidelity for mineral content and particle size, created through standardized inputs and documented processes” for use by terrestrial researchers in a variety of programs.


Hayabusa2 Makes Successful Flyby of Earth

Drawing of Hayabusa2 and MASCOT small lander. (Credit: DLR)
Drawing of Hayabusa2 and MASCOT small lander. (Credit: DLR)

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) confirmed that the Asteroid Explorer “Hayabusa2” is cruising on its target orbit after measuring and calculating the post-Earth-swing-by orbit.

The Hayabusa2 performed the Earth swing-by on the night of December 3 (Thu.), 2015 (Japan Standard Time). The Hayabusa2 flew closest to the Earth at 7:08 p.m. (JST) and passed over the Pacific Ocean near the Hawaii islands at an altitude of about 3,090 km. With the swing-by, the explorer’s orbit turned by about 80 degrees and its speed increased by about 1.6 km per second to about 31.9 km per second (against the sun) thus the orbit achieved the target numbers.


Hayabusa2 Asteroid Named After Dragon’s Castle

Hayabusa1TOKYO (JAXA PR) — The asteroid 1999 JU3, a target of the Asteroid Explorer “Hayabusa2,” was named “Ryugu”.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) conducted a naming proposal campaign between July 22 and August 31, 2015. The result of the careful study of proposed names by the selection panel of pundits is as follows.

1. Selected Name: Ryugu

JAXA Wants You — Yes You! — to Name Hayabusa2’s Target Asteroid

Hayabusa2 approach target. (Credit: JAXA)
Hayabusa2 approach target. (Credit: JAXA)

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) started invite of naming proposals for the near Earth asteroid 1999 JU3, which is the target of Hayabusa2, the mission to return samples from the asteroid.

  1. Fill out the application form below before the deadline, August 31, 2015 at 10:00 a.m. (Japan Standard Time).
  2. No conditions are required. Applying multiple times is also possible.
  3. Asteroid naming guidelines:
    Asteroids can’t be named just anything; the International Astronomical Union IAU) has rules. The following are conditions stipulated by IAU for naming an asteroid.


Hayabusa2 Cruises Toward Asteroid Rendezvous

Drawing of Hayabusa2 and MASCOT small lander. (Credit: DLR)
Drawing of Hayabusa2 and MASCOT small lander. (Credit: DLR)

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — The Asteroid Explorer “Hayabusa2” completed its initial functional confirmation period on March 2, 2015, as all scheduled checkout and evaluation of acquired data were completed. The explorer has been under inspection for about three months after its launch on Dec. 3, 2014.

The Hayabusa2 is moving to the cruising phase while heading to the asteroid “1999 JU3” on March 3. It will be under preparatory operation for an Earth swing-by scheduled in Nov. or Dec., 2015.

We plan to increase the cruising speed of the explorer (60 m/sec.) by operating two ion engines twice (in total about 600 hours or 25 days) until the Earth swing-by. For the first operation, we will gradually increase the time duration of continuous ion-engine operation from March 3, and will operate the engines for about 400 hours within March. The second operation is scheduled in early June.

The Hayabusa2 is in good health.

We would like to express our profound appreciation to all pertinent parties who have supported and cooperated with our initial functional confirmation operation. Your further and continued support will be highly appreciated for this long-term space exploration mission of the Hayabusa2.

* For more information about the Hayabusa2, please refer to the following JAXA website “Hayabusa2 project page.”

JAXA Gets Modest Budget Increase, Sets Sights on New Launcher

Hayabusa2 launch aboard a H-2A rocket (Credit: JAXA)
Hayabusa2 launch aboard a H-2A rocket (Credit: JAXA)

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)
President Naoki Okumura
January Press Conference

Cabinet Approval of JFY 2015 Budget

The original Japan Fiscal Year 2015 budget was approved by the Cabinet on Jan. 14. JAXA’s total budget is 154.1 billion yen [$1.29 billion], about 400 million [3.35 million] less than that of JFY 2014 of 154.5 billion yen [$1.3 billion]. However, a supplementary budget of 29.9 billion yen [$250 million] was already set, thus the total will be 184 billion yen [$1.54 billion]. So, incorporating the supplementary budgets, the JFY 2015 JAXA budget is about a 2.5 billion yen [$21 million] increase from the 2014 budged of 181.5 billion yen [$1.52 billion].


Worldwide Launches Hit 20-Year High in 2014

Orion Exploration Flight Test launch. (Credit: NASA)
Orion Exploration Flight Test launch. (Credit: NASA)

By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

It was a banner year for launches worldwide in 2014, with the total reaching a 20-year high as Russia and India debuted new launch vehicles, NASA tested its Orion crew spacecraft, China sent a capsule around the moon, and Japan launched a spacecraft to land on an asteroid.

There were a total of 92 orbital launches, the highest number since the 93 launches conducted in 1994. In addition, Russia and India conducted successful suborbital tests of new boosters.


Interview With Hayabusa2 Program Manager


In June 2010, asteroid explorer Hayabusa completed a seven-year journey of about 6 billion kilometers, returning to Earth with dust particles from an asteroid. Its successor, Hayabusa2, was launched on an H-IIA Launch Vehicle from the Tanegashima Space Center on December 3, 2014. Hayabusa2 will make its own journey to asteroid 1999 JU3, carrying our hopes into outer space. Just before launch, we asked Project Manager Hitoshi Kuninaka to talk about the mission.


NASA Cooperating With JAXA on Hayabusa2 Science

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

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA and space agencies across the globe are opening up new possibilities for space exploration with missions to comets, asteroids, and other celestial bodies.

Following NASA, European Space Agency (ESA), and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) spacecraft observations of the close flyby of Mars by comet Siding Spring in October, and the successful November landing of ESA’s Philae lander on comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) successfully launched its Hayabusa2 mission on Dec. 3 to rendezvous with an asteroid, land a small probe plus three mini rovers on its surface, and then return samples to Earth.


Hayabusa2 on its Way to a Rendezvous With an Asteroid

Hayabusa2 launch aboard a H-2A rocket (Credit: JAXA)
Hayabusa2 launch aboard a H-2A rocket (Credit: JAXA)

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) successfully launched the H-IIA Launch Vehicle No. 26 (H-IIA F26) with the Asteroid Explorer “Hayabusa2” onboard at 1:22:04 p.m. on December 3, 2014 (Japan Standard Time, JST) from the Tanegashima Space Center.

The launch vehicle flew as planned, and at approximately one hour, 47 minutes and 21 seconds after liftoff, the separation of the Hayabusa2 to earth-escape trajectory was confirmed.

JAXA received signals from the Asteroid Explorer “Hayabusa2” at 3:44 p.m. on December 3, 2014 (Japan Standard Time) at the NASA Goldstone Deep Space Communication Complex (in California) and confirmed that its initial sequence of operations including the solar array paddle deployment and sun acquisition control have been performed normally.

The explorer is now in a stable condition.

The Asteroid Explorer “Hayabusa2” is a successor to the “Hayabusa”, which verified various new exploration technologies and returned to Earth in June 2010. The “Hayabusa2” is setting out on a journey to clarify the origin and evolution of the solar system as well as life matter. The “Hayabusa2” will find out more about the world.

With a launch success rate for H-IIA/B launch vehicles at 96.7%, this launch confirms the quality and reliability of the H-IIA/B.

We would like to express our profound appreciation for the cooperation and support of all related personnel and organizations that helped contribute to the successful launch of the H-IIA F26.