Hayabusa2 landsætter MINERVA-II1


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      • Super Nova

      Japan’s asteroid hoppers deliver new batch of incredible images

      Jason DavisSeptember 27, 2018

      A fresh batch of incredible images from Japan’s Hayabusa2 mission have arrived on Earth, revealing asteroid Ryugu’s rocky surface in even finer detail.

      Last Friday, the Hayabusa2 spacecraft dropped a pair of hopping, drum-shaped rovers onto the surface from a height of about 60 meters. The 18-centimeter-wide probes, collectively called MINERVA-II1, can lift themselves off the surface for several minutes at a time using spinning, internal motors. Both rovers captured images during their descent, and one rover grabbed a picture mid-hop.

      Now there are new images. On Thursday, Japan’s space agency, JAXA, confirmed both rovers are hopping as designed, and released a treasure trove of pictures from the probes as they tumble around Ryugu. The snapshots show the asteroid’s surface as a loose pile of gravel strewn with larger rocks and boulders.

      JAXA also released a high-resolution image from the Hayabusa2 spacecraft itself, hovering above the shadowed edge of a boulder several meters wide.

      Ryugu’s surface will prove challenging for the mission’s ultimate goal of collecting a sample for return to Earth in 2020. The latest JAXA press release lists that sample attempt happening in late October, with a rehearsal planned in the middle of the month. A similar touchdown rehearsal in mid-September was cancelled after the spacecraft had trouble detecting reflections from Ryugu’s dark surface.

      Hayabusa2 is also scheduled to release a lander called MASCOT on Wednesday, October 3.

      Hayabusa2 stops short of close approach on first touchdown rehearsal

      Emily LakdawallaSeptember 13, 2018

      This is why people do rehearsals. Hayabusa2 didn’t quite make it down to its intended 60-meter distance from asteroid Ryugu yesterday. The “touchdown 1 rehearsal 1” operation aborted at an altitude of about 600 meters after the laser altimeter had trouble detecting reflections from Ryugu’s very dark surface. There is nothing wrong with the spacecraft; it’s healthy and returning to its home position of 20 kilometers altitude. The team will adjust parameters and give it another try in the future. In the meantime, they grabbed some cool photos from distances under 1000 meters. The last several optical navigation photos, shared on the Web in real time, actually showed the shadow of Hayabusa2 on the surface of the asteroid.


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