Japan’s Hayabusa2 Blasts Asteroid Ryugu

Asteroid Ryugu with north polar boulder (Credit: JAXA, University of Tokyo, Kochi University, Rikkyo University, Nagoya University, Chiba Institute of Technology, Meiji University, University of Aizu and AIST)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

After billions of years of being bombarded by cosmic debris, the Earth finally struck back on Friday.

Japan’s Hayabusa2 spacecraft bombed the asteroid Ryugu in an ambitious attempt to collect samples from beneath the rocky world’s surface. JAXA has confirmed that the orbiter is safe and sound following the operation. The space agency is still downloading images and data acquired during the operation.

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JAXA Space Exploration Hub Center Co-Produces Results on Remote and Automatic Control to Build Lunar Base

Computer generated image of remotely operated construction of lunar base. (Credit: JAXA)

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — National Research and Development Agency Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (President: Hiroshi Yamakawa, hereafter JAXA) and Kajima Corporation (President and Representative Director: Yoshikazu Oshimi) have promoted research and development on the remote construction system by coordination of remote and automatic control.*

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JAXA, UNOSA Open Fifth Round of KiboCUBE

Successful deployment of 1KUNS-PF (Kenyan Satellite, selected as first round of KiboCUBE) from Kibo in May, 2018. (Credit: JAXA)

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) is pleased to announce the opening of the fifth round of KiboCUBE.

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Super Low Altitude Tsubame Satellite Transitions to Orbit Keeping Operations

The Super Low Altitude Test Satellite. (Credit: JAXA)

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — National Research and Exploration Agency Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) launched Tsubame (*1), The Super Low Altitude Test Satellite, on December 23, 2017. The Tsubame satellite completed its orbit transfer phase and will transition on April 2 to the orbit keeping phase, powered by the ion engines.

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Space BD, JAXA Sign Agreement on Use of Kibo Exposed Platform

Japanese KIBO module

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — Space BD Inc., a space start-up company, and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), a national research and development agency, signed a basic agreement to promote utilization of EF utilization platform using the IVA-replaceable Small Exposed Experiment Platform (i-SEEP) and to be active as service providers capable of providing EF utilization platform services on Kibo of the International Space Station.

Space BD Inc. will start their business activity soon and will provide their on-orbit service with users around the world to perform on-orbit demonstration of material, EEE parts and components and earth observation mission etc. from early 2020.

Space BD, Satlantis Sign Agreement to Install Optical Instrument Outside Kibo Module

Japanese KIBO module

TOKYO (Space BD PR) — Space BD Inc. received a contract from a Spanish start-up company Satlantis, for an integrated in-orbit demonstration service of the “Integrated Standard Imager for Microsatellites (hereafter iSIM)”, a satellite optical instrument that the company has developed.

The demonstration mission will utilise the “IVA-replaceable Small Exposed Experiment Platform (i-SEEP)”, the exposed facility of the Japanese Experimental Module “Kibo” on the International Space Station (ISS). This is the first time that a non-Japanese technology is demonstrated on i-SEEP.

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Earth Strikes Back: Hayabusa2 Prepares to Blast the Bejesus Out of Ryugu

Asteroid Ryugu with north polar boulder (Credit: JAXA, University of Tokyo, Kochi University, Rikkyo University, Nagoya University, Chiba Institute of Technology, Meiji University, University of Aizu and AIST)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

For billions of years, the surface of the Earth has been bombarded by unwanted cosmic visitors. Meteors, comets and asteroids have blasted massive holes in the surface of our planet, resulting in catastrophic climate change, mass extinctions and, according to one theory, the moon itself.

Early next month, the Earth will finally strike back. Japan’s Hayabusa2 spacecraft is preparing to bomb the asteroid Ryugu to obtain a sample from beneath the world’s rocky surface.

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Hayabusa2 Status Reports From JAXA

Figure 2: Touchdown image overlapped with the planned touchdown site. The white dot at the end of the arrow is the target marker. (Credit: JAXA, University of Tokyo, Kochi University, Rikkyo University, Nagoya University, Chiba Institute of Technology, Meiji University, University of Aizu, AIST)

Status Reports From Asteroid Ryugu
Courtesy of JAXA

Hayabusa2 Status (Week of 2019.3.4)

This week, we conducted the “Descent Observation” operation (DO-S01) from 3/6 to 3/8 in order to observe a future touchdown candidate site (S01) in detail. This was the first descent to an altitude of 22m since the 2/22 touchdown. In the first half of the week, we adjusted the pressure of the RCS (thrusters) and found them to be in good condition.

As the Optical Navigation Camera (ONC-W1) appeared to be dusty from the previous touchdown, we did not know if there would be any issues during this descent with the camera or other instruments that we would have to deal with. Luckily, all devices worked normally and we obtained detailed data of S01. The spacecraft returned to the home poison on 3/9 and we are now preparing for the next “crater search” operation (CRA1).

Hayabusa2 status (Week of 2019.2.25)

Immediately after returning to the “home position” at a 20km altitude after the TD1-L08E operation on 2/23, we began a BOX-C operation in which the spacecraft descends to an altitude of about 5km. As one of the observations in this this operation, we observed around the Otohime boulder.

We also downloaded the data obtained by the last touchdown operation (TD1-L08E) and from this BOX-C operation, as well as checking the health of the bus equipment for next week’s “Descent Observation” operation (DO-S01). We had many days of bad weather, and the operation time at the Usuda station was shortened due to wet snow in a late winter. Despite this, we managed many operations in a short time. The spacecraft began to rise back towards the home position on 3/1.

JAXA & Toyota Agree on Taking Up the Challenge of International Space Exploration

Conceptual pressurized crewed lunar rover. (Credit: JAXA)

Aim is to make future lunar mobility a reality

TOKYO, March 12, 2019 (JAXA/Toyota PR) —The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Toyota Motor Corporation (Toyota) agreed today to study the possibility of collaborating on international space exploration. As a first step, JAXA and Toyota agreed to further cooperate on and accelerate their ongoing joint study*1 of a manned, pressurized rover*2 that employs fuel cell vehicle technologies. Such a form of mobility is deemed necessary for human exploration activities on the lunar surface. Even with the limited amount of energy that can be transported to the moon, the pressurized rover would have a total lunar-surface cruising range of more than 10,000 km.

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ISS Multilateral Coordination Board Says Lunar Gateway is Next Step

Lunar Gateway concept. (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — The International Space Station (ISS) Multilateral Coordination Board (MCB), which oversees the management of the ISS, met on March 5th, 2019. Its members[1] acknowledged the recent 20th anniversary of the launch of the first International Space Station module and celebrated the success of the ISS partnership. This international team has not only built the space station and risen to the challenges of its day-to-day dynamic operation, but – most importantly – delivered tangible benefits to humanity.

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Hayabusa2 Lands on Asteroid Ryugu, Fires Projectile to Collect Sample

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — National Research and Development Agency Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) executed the asteroid explorer Hayabusa2 operation to touch down the surface of the target asteroid Ryugu for sample retrieval.

Data analysis from Hayabusa2 confirms that the sequence of operation proceeded, including shooting a projectile into the asteroid to collect its sample material. The Hayabusa2 spacecraft is in nominal state. This marks the Hayabusa2 successful touchdown on Ryugu.

Hayabusa2 Set to Land on Asteroid Ryugu on Feb. 22

JAXA Hayabusa2 Mission Status Report
(Week of 2019.1.28)

Hayabusa2 returned to the home position (HP) on 1/31 from the BOX-B operation which observed the north pole of Ryugu. At the HP, we carried our regularly performed observations for one rotation period. The distance of the Sun from Ryugu varies from 0.96au to 1.42au (1 au is the average distance between the Sun and Earth, about 150 million km). The angle formed by the Sun, Ryugu and the Earth (equivalent to the SPE angle) also varies from 0 degrees (at the conjunction time) to a maximum of about 40 degrees.

Depending on the current solar distance and solar angle, the characteristics of the reflected sunlight observed by the ONC and the characteristics of the thermal radiation observed by the TIR vary. We therefore observe Ryugu regularly from the HP because it is helpful to acquire data under different observation conditions. The observations on 1/31 were particularly valuable as the Sun’s distance about 1.42 au (near aphelion: the furthest distance) while the SPE angle was 10.1°.

Due to the relative positions of the Sun, Earth and Ryugu, the operation start time at the Usuda ground station is now so early that it is before the first train in the morning! The person in charge of operations and “Commander-san” who is responsible for sending commands to the spacecraft, are not able to reach the campus in time, so we first started acquiring telemetry data only from the Usuda station. Then in Sagamihara, we began our command operations a little later. We call operations like this “ripuro-nyukan”, which indicates that the telemetry is received automatically at the beginning of the operation. It is helpful for extremely cold mornings…

JAXA Hayabusa2 Mission Status Report
(Week of 2019.1.21)

This week was the tour or “BOX-B” operation. Here, the spacecraft’s altitude is lowered from the Home Position (HP) by about 2km and shifted towards the north pole by about 9km. We moved slowly over several days, arriving on 1/24. In the previous BOX-B operation, we observed the south pole hemisphere of the asteroid, so this time we moved to observe the north pole region from above.

We stayed at that location for about 1 day to make scientific observations, after which a ΔV (acceleration) was performed and we are now returning to the HP (schedule to arrive at HP on 1/31). Observations were made with all scientific instruments; ONC, TIR, NIRS3 and LIDAR. Working with both the Goldstone and Madrid ground stations, as well as Usuda, we were able to acquire the observational data over the weekend. We also gathered additional valuable data, including a health check for the ONC and dark imaging from the TIR during the tour.

Locations Named on Asteroid Ryugu

Asteroid Ryugu photographed by Japan’s Hayabusa2 spacecraft. (Credit: JAXA)

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — Place names for locations on the surface of Ryugu were discussed by Division F (Planetary Systems and Bioastronomy) of the International Astronomical Union (IAU) Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature (hereafter IAU WG) and approved in December 2018. We will introduce the place names in this article and the background to their selection.

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Japanese Company Launches Small Satellite to Create First Artificial Meteor Shower

ALE-1 satellite undergoing fit test. (Credit: JAXA)

TOKYO (ALE PR) — ALE’s first satellite was successfully launched and completed its first communication with ground station.

The space venture corporation ALE Co. Ltd., aiming to create the world’s first man made meteor via satellite technology, announced on January 18 the following updates regarding the launch of its first satellite into space.

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