JAXA Postpones Hayabusa2 Landing on Asteroid Ryugu

Image of Ryugu captured by the ONC-T at an altitude of about 64m. Image was taken on September 21, 2018 at around 13:04 JST.This is the highest resolution photograph obtained of the surface of Ryugu. Bottom left is a large boulder. (Credit: JAXA, University of Tokyo, Kochi University, Rikkyo University, Nagoya University, Chiba Institute of Technology, Meiji University, Aizu University, AIST).

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.

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MASCOT Successfully Completes Exploration of Asteroid Ryugu

Figure 1c (Credit : JAXA, University of Tokyo, Kochi University, Rikkyo University, Nagoya University, Chiba Institute of Technology, Meiji University, University of Aizu, AIST)
  • 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.

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Images of MASCOT’s Descent to Asteroid Ryugu

Figure 1c shows the MASCOT lander descending toward asteroid Ryugu. (Credit : JAXA, University of Tokyo, Kochi University, Rikkyo University, Nagoya University, Chiba Institute of Technology, Meiji University, University of Aizu, AIST)

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.

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A Closer Look at Hayabusa2’s MASCOT Asteroid Lander

Left: Illustration of MASCOT separating from Hayabusa2. Right: Illustration of MASCOT landing on the surface of Ryugu. (Credit: JAXA)

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).
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MASCOT Lands Safely on Asteroid Ryugu

Figure 3: Left: Illustration of MASCOT separating from Hayabusa2. Right: Illustration of MASCOT landing on the surface of Ryugu. (Credit: JAXA)

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.
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Hayabusa2 Images Ryugu’s Surface at Highest Resolution Yet

Figure 1. Image of Ryugu captured by the ONC-T at an altitude of about 64m. Image was taken on September 21, 2018 at around 13:04 JST.This is the highest resolution photograph obtained of the surface of Ryugu. Bottom left is a large boulder. (Credit: JAXA, University of Tokyo, Kochi University, Rikkyo University, Nagoya University, Chiba Institute of Technology, Meiji University, Aizu University, AIST).

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — When Hayabusa2 descended towards Ryugu for the MINERVA-II1 deployment operation, the ONC-T (Optical Navigation Camera – Telescopic) captured images at the highest resolution to date.

This next figure shows the location of Figure 1 on Ryugu.

Figure 2. Region of the highest resolution image. Yellow boxes correspond to the region in Figure 1. (Left) The region is shown on the ONC-T global image of Ryugu. (Right) ONC-W1 image, taken at 70 m height. 2018-09-21 13:02(JST). (Image credit: JAXA, University of Tokyo, Kochi University, Rikkyo University, Nagoya University, Chiba Institute of Technology, Meiji University, Aizu University, AIST).

Highest resolution image obtained by Hayabusa

Figure 3. High resolution image of the surface of asteroid Itokawa photographed by Hayabusa. “D” is taken from an altitude of 63m. It is thought that the so-called “Muses Sea” (official name “MUSES-C Regio”) is covered with a “gravel” of granules with diameters from a few mm to few cm. (From Yano et al, Science Vol 312 2, June 2006)

Amazing New Minerva Images & Video From the Surface of Asteroid Ryugu


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.

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MinervaII-1 Rovers Hopping Around on Surface of Asteroid Ryugu

Figure 3: Image captured by Rover-1A on September 22 at around 11:44 JST. Color image captured while moving (during a hop) on the surface of Ryugu. The left-half of the image is the asteroid surface. The bright white region is due to sunlight. (Credit: JAXA).

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — On September 21, the small compact MINERVA-II1 rovers separated from the Hayabusa2 spacecraft (time of separation was 13:06 JST). The MINERVA-II1 consists of two rovers, Rover-1A and Rover-1B. We have confirmed both rovers landed on the surface of asteroid Ryugu. The two rovers are in good condition and are transmitting images and data. Analysis of this information confirmed that at least one of the rovers is moving on the asteroid surface.

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JAXA Identifies Landing Sites on Asteroid Ryugu for Hayabusa2 Mission

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

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — The Landing Site Selection (LSS) conference was held on August 17, 2018 and the candidate landing locations for touchdown, MASCOT and MINERVA-II-1 on the surface asteroid Ryugu were decided. In this article, we introduce the landing candidate spots and the planned dates for these surface operations, along with details of the selection.

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Landing on Ryugu – A Surface with a View of Boulders

The boulder-strewn surface of asteroid Ryugu. (Credit: JAXA, University of Tokyo, Kochi University, Rikkyo University, Nagoya University, Chiba Institute of Technology, Meiji University, University of Aizu, AIST.)

COLOGNE, Germany (DLR PR) — In early October 2018, the Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout (MASCOT) lander is expected to be in operation for approximately 16 hours on the Ryugu asteroid. The selection of the landing site will take place this August. The ideal site must firstly offer the MASCOT team engineers excellent conditions for a safe landing and stable operation on the asteroid, while providing the researchers with a wealth of new and productive measurements.

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MASCOT’s Asteroid Landing – Preparations, Risks and Last-minute Decisions

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

COLOGNE, Germany (DLR PR) — Scientists and engineers have been waiting nearly four years for the Japanese Hayabusa2 spacecraft – which is carrying the Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout (MASCOT) lander that was developed and constructed by the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) – to reach its destination: the asteroid Ryugu. With the approach and arrival having taken place on 27 June 2018, the landing is now within reach.

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Imaging Ryugu from an Altitude of 6 km

Figure 1: Asteroid Ryugu from an altitude of 6km. Image was captured with the Optical Navigation Camera – Telescopic (ONC-T) on July 20, 2018 at around 16:00 JST. (Credit: JAXA, University of Tokyo, Kochi University, Rikkyo University, Nagoya University, Chiba Institute of Technology, Meiji University, University of Aizu, AIST.)

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — Hayabusa2 arrived at asteroid Ryugu on June 27, after which the spacecraft remained at a distance of about 20km (the Home Position) to continue to observe the asteroid. During this time, the spacecraft was maintaining a hovering altitude of 20km above the asteroid surface. In the week of July 16, operations were begun to lower this hovering altitude, eventually bringing the spacecraft to less than 6km from the asteroid surface. One of the images taken at that time is shown in Figure 1.

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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.

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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.

New Images of Asteroid Ryugu from Hayabusa-2

Asteroid Ryugu imaged by Hayabusa2 from between 220 ~ 100 km. (Credit: JAXA)

Comment by Project Scientist, Sei-ichiro Watanbe

The direction of the rotation is reversed compared to the Earth, with a rotation period of about 7.5 hours.

The diameter of Ryugu is about 900m, which is consistent with the prediction from ground observations. However, since the distance between the spacecraft and Ryugu is not precisely determined, there is still some uncertainty in the exact diameter at this time.

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