HOUSTON (NASA PR) — The largest and most complex international construction project in space began on the steppes of Kazakhstan 20 years ago today. Atop its Proton rocket, on Nov. 20, 1998, the Zarya Functional Cargo Block (FGB) thundered off its launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome into cold wintry skies. Zarya was built by the Khrunichev in Moscow and served as a temporary control module for the nascent ISS.
JAXA has successfully recovered a capsule with experiments aboard from the International Space Station (ISS) for the first time.
The HTV Small Re-entry Capsule (HSRC) splashed down in the ocean under a parachute near the island of Minamitorishima. The experimental capsule separated from the HTV-7 (Kounotori) resupply ship after the latter separated from ISS. Kounotori burned up in Earth’s atmosphere as planned.
“Towards the goal to acquire Japan’s first cargo recovery capacity from the ISS, the Small Re-entry Capsule will be demonstrating its guided lift flight capabilities that will enable the capsule to descent under reduced G-forces, as well as its heat protection capability of the ablator while its re-entry into the atmosphere,” JAXA President Hiroshi Yamakawa said in a press release. “We expect that these efforts will lead to securing flexibility in our future space flight activities.”
HRSC provides another way to return experiments from the space station. SpaceX’s Dragon resupply ship is currently the only dedicated cargo vehicle that can return research. Russia’s crewed Soyuz vehicle has limited space available for experiments when there are three astronauts aboard.
HTV-7 carried approximately 6.2 metric tons of cargo to the space station. Supplies included new ISS batteries using Japanese Lithium-Ion batteries, large experiment racks provided by NASA and ESA, three CubeSats and fresh food
TOKYO (JAXA PR) — During the second touchdown rehearsal (TD1-R1-A), we captured a sequential set of images as the spacecraft reached the point of lowest altitude and then began to rise. The spacecraft reached the lowest altitude of 22.3m above the surface of Ryugu on October 15, 2018 at 22:44 JST. [Editor’s Note: Hayabusa2 has completed three landing rehearsals.]
The most promising candidate site for touchdown is L08-B and is also captured in these images (Figure 2). As you can see in Figure 2 and Figure 1, there are not any large boulders in L08-B, but there is a big cliff-like boulder in the upper right of Figure 2 so care is still needed.
In the future, these images obtained during the rehearsals will be analyzed in more detail to aim for a safe touchdown.
If you enlarge the shadow of the probe shown in Figure 2, you will see the following figure. The gap between the panels of the solar paddle is easily visible, as is the shape of the spacecraft and the two star trackers.
KOUROU, French Guiana, 20 October 2018 (ESA PR) — The ESA-JAXA BepiColombo mission to Mercury blasted off on an Ariane 5 from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou at 01:45:28 GMT on 20 October on its exciting mission to study the mysteries of the Solar System’s innermost planet.
Signals from the spacecraft, received at ESA’s control centre in Darmstadt, Germany, via the New Norcia ground tracking station at 02:21 GMT confirmed that the launch was successful.
Video Caption: BepiColombo is scheduled for launch at 01:45 GMT (03:45 CEST) on 20 October on an Ariane 5 from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou.
Final assembly of the two orbiters and transfer module has taken place, ready for the spacecraft to be integrated into its Ariane 5 launcher.
BepiColombo is Europe’s first mission to Mercury, the smallest and least explored planet in the inner Solar System. It is a joint endeavour between ESA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, JAXA, and consists of two scientific orbiters: ESA’s Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) and JAXA’s Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO).
The mission will study all aspects of Mercury, from the structure and dynamics of its magnetosphere and how it interacts with the solar wind, to its internal structure with its large iron core, and the origin of the planet’s magnetic field.
TOKYO (JAXA PR) — On the basis of the recent observations and operations in the vicinity of asteroid Ryugu by the Hayabusa2 spacecraft, the project team have decided to postpone the touchdown (TD) from the end of October this year (2018) to after January next year.
As planned, MASCOT was able to acquire data about the composition and texture of the asteroid at several locations.
Before the battery depleted, the lander sent all scientific data to the Hayabusa2 mothercraft.
New images from MASCOT’s landing on asteroid Ryugu were presented by DLR, JAXA and CNES today at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC).
COLOGNE, Germany (DLR PR) — It was a day full of exciting moments and a happy team of scientists and engineers: late in the afternoon of 3 October 2018, the German-French lander MASCOT completed its historic exploration of the surface of the asteroid Ryugu at 21:04 CEST, as its battery ran out.
On-asteroid operations were originally scheduled to last 16 hours after separation from the Japanese mothercraft Hayabusa2. But in the end, the battery lasted more than 17 hours.
BREMEN, Germany (NASA PR) — NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine took advantage of the global presence at the 2018 International Astronautical Congress to sign three new agreements, underpinning the agency’s continued commitment to international cooperation. The agreements, with Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Japan, covered lunar exploration, X-ray astronomy and human space flight.
NASA and the Israel Space Agency (ISA) agreed to cooperatively utilize the Israeli nonprofit SpaceIL’s commercial lunar mission, expected to land on the Moon in 2019. NASA will contribute a laser retroreflector array to aid with ground tracking and Deep Space Network support to aid in mission communication. ISA and SpaceIL will share data with NASA from the SpaceIL lunar magnetometer installed aboard the spacecraft. The instrument, which was developed in collaboration with the Weizmann Institute of Science, will measure the magnetic field on and above the landing site.
TOKYO (JAXA PR) — The small asteroid lander, MASCOT, that was developed in Germany and France, was successfully separated from the Hayabusa2 spacecraft on October 3 and delivered safely to the surface of Ryugu. After landing, MASCOT acquired scientific data on the asteroid surface, which was transmitted to the MASCOT team via the spacecraft. Scientific analysis of this data is expected to be performed by the MASCOT team from now onwards.
Joint Statement By Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), The Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES), and Deutsches Zentrum für Luft-und Raumfahrt e.V., Linder Höhe, 51147 Köln, represented by its Executive Board (The German Aerospace Center DLR) on Joint Study Activities for a Rover onboard Martian Moon eXploration Mission (MMX)
The DLR – CNES asteroid lander MASCOT (Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout) onboard Hayabusa 2 is intended to land on the surface of asteroid Ryugu on October 3,2018. MASCOT will significantly enhance the mission’s science result through performing remote observation as well as surface composition analysis.
In the light of this success, JAXA, CNES, and DLR jointly declare their wish to cooperate on the MMX (Martian Moons eXploration) mission as follows:
MMX is a JAXA led mission to explore Martian moons, Phobos and Deimos, aiming for observation, landing, and sample return.
JAXA, CNES, and DLR have agreed that the rover onboard MMX would be developed through French-German collaboration.
The rover would be released to the surface of Martian Moon prior to the landing of its mother ship, MMX. The rover is to analyze the surface regolith and configuration in great details to optimize the MMX landing and sample return operation. This process is expected not only to reduce the mission risk but also to achieve scientific result as the rover acquires surface data in advance of the physical sample return to the Earth.
While the MASCOT with primary batteries allows approximately 1-day of operation, the rover onboard MMX is to be powered by solar cell, which is to enable mobile surface observation that is expected to last for several months.
The scientific observation instrument to be onboard MMX will be determined in the aim of maximizing the outcome of MMX mission.
JAXA, CNES, and DLR are going to jointly conduct study activities for MMX and the rover with the aim for launch in 2024.
In witness hereof this Statement has been signed on October 3, 2018 at International Astronautical Congress in Bremen, Germany.
Hiroshi Yamakawa President, JAXA
Jean-Yves Le Gall President, CNES
Pascale Ehrenfreund Chair of the Executive Board, DLR
Hansjörg Dittus Member of the Executive Board, DLR
TOKYO (JAXA PR) — MASCOT (Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout) is the asteroid lander jointly developed by DLR (German Aerospace Center) and CNES (French National Center for Space Studies). MASCOT is stored on the -Y-plane side of Hayabusa2 (this is the left-hand side surface when the high gain antenna is at the head and the ion engine is at the spacecraft back) and deployed from this position (see Figure 1). (more…)
COLOGNE, Germany (DLR PR) — The near-Earth asteroid Ryugu, located approximately 300 million kilometres from Earth, has a new inhabitant: On 3 October 2018, the Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout (MASCOT) landed on the asteroid and began to work.
The lander successfully separated from the Japanese Hayabusa2 space probe at 03:58 CEST. The 16 hours in which the lander will conduct measurements on the asteroid’s surface have begun for the international team of engineers and scientists. (more…)
Rover-1B successfully shot a movie. 15 frames captured on September 23, 2018 from 10:34 – 11:48 JST. (Credit: JAXA)
TOKYO (JAXA PR) — The MINERVA-II1 rovers were deployed on September 21 to explore the surface of asteroid Ryugu. Here is the second report on their activities, following our preliminary article at the start of this week. Above is a video taken by one of the rovers that shows the Sun moving across the sky as seen from the surface of Ryugu. Please take a moment to enjoy “standing” on this new world.