Hayabusa-2 and Asteroid Ryugu

September 22, 2018: YES!!!!!!!


Hopping rovers . . . now why didn’t Star Trek ever dream of that?



September 21, 2018: MINERVA is currently on the other side of the asteroid and silent, per last tweet. Some incredible images!


And remember that image of the spacecraft’s shadow, earlier this week? Check this out!

MASCOT is still scheduled to go down on October 3rd.

As for the newly deployed MINERVA rovers, it’s apparently a waiting game now:

JAXA must wait for the Hayabusa2 probe to send data from the rovers to Earth in a day or two to assess whether the release has been a success, officials said.

“We are very much hopeful. We don’t have confirmation yet, but we are very, very hopeful,” Yuichi Tsuda, JAXA project manager, told reporters.

“I am looking forward to seeing pictures. I want to see images of space as seen from the surface of the asteroid,” he said.

The cautious announcement came after a similar JAXA probe in 2005 released a rover which failed to reach its target asteroid.

Next month, Hayabusa2 will deploy an “impactor” that will explode above the asteroid, shooting a 2-kg (four-pound) copper object into the surface to blast a crater a few meters in diameter.

From this crater, the probe will collect “fresh” materials unexposed to millennia of wind and radiation, hoping for answers to some fundamental questions about life and the universe, including whether elements from space helped give rise to life on Earth.

The probe will also release a French-German landing vehicle named Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout (MASCOT) for surface observation.

Japan Times

September 20, 2018: They’re going in now to deploy MINERVA, and live-tweeting it. Real-time navigation images here are in the tweets (problem with the link here).



September15, 2018: JAXA tweeted the moments leading up to that “see your shadow on an asteroid” moment. They were practicing the descent for touchdown later this fall (see post below).


Of note, they didn’t get as far down to the asteroid as they wanted: “just” 600 meters (1,969 feet) away. Still awesome for pilots working from Earth!

The spacecraft’s LIDAR then intervened, apparently because Ryugu’s surface is not as reflective as they were expecting. The team is probably working on this problem now. This is all per their Twitter feed. Hope it doesn’t affect the mission!

September 12, 2018: Wow! This is from the descent rehearsal they did yesterday. Looks like they have found a fairly boulder-free site, too.


Update, September 4, 2018: This looks so exciting, I decided to bump the post. Per their Twitter account, the Hayabusa team is planning to begin touchdown rehearsal in a week, and the MASCOT lander is scheduled to go down in early October.

They expect it to bounce (like Philae did during the Rosetta comet mission), and they also have a very cool way for MASCOT to move around the asteroid!

Operations updates

MASCOT Twitter feed

Hayabusa-2 Twitter feed

Earlier posts

Update, July 11, 2018: I so enjoy the 21st-century luxury of having spacecraft tweet images from their latest position millions of miles away!


And here is the “Dragon Palace” in 3D!


Japan’s Hayabusa 2 spacecraft has arrived at Asteroid Ryugu!


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