Hayabusa2 and Asteroid Ryugu

November 3, 2018: It is going to a challenge to maneuver the spacecraft close enough to poke the surface for a sample.


October 30, 2018, 8:54 p.m., Pacific: Look at the footage they got during the most recent touchdown rehearsal! Heh. If Ryugu were sentient, it would think there was a mosquito buzzing around it . . . but this mosquito is going to swat Ryugu in 2019!


October 25, 2018, 1:32 p.m., Pacific: Another spectacular image, this from today’s rehearsel for the 2019 touchdown. The shiny thing is a target marker, but look at that spacecraft shadow! Wow, they were close! JAXA reports a new approach record of 12 meters (40 feet).


October 14, 2018, 4:15 p.m., Pacific: This is the rehearsal–they report that the LIDAR problem was fixed, so they’re doing the rehearsal again. There will be another rehearsal later this month.


However, they have moved up the actual touchdown to next year–see this report for details.

Although the first touchdown schedule is changed, we have enough time margins in our schedule, and our aim is a more reliable and safe operation through a comprehensive study of all the sources of information obtained so far during the Hayabusa2 project.

Real-time images from the October 3rd MASCOT deployment in English here.

October 3, 2018:


And here is the press conference (the first few minutes are silent reaction shots in the control room–those initial grins are wonderful!–and then the conference, which is narrated by an English-language translator):


October 2, 2018, 8:55 p.m., Pacific: Per most recent tweet, they’ve got communication with the lander, and . . .


October 2, 2018, 8:49 p.m., Pacific:


I’m not sure, but there may be another delay of hours now, as there was with the MINERVA rovers, before we know MASCOT has landed and is operating. . .

October 2, 2018, 6:25 p.m., Pacific: MASCOT deployment update: It’s October 3 in Japan, and Hayabusa2 is descending toward Ryugu again, just as it did recently to deploy the MINERVA rovers. Check these Twitter feeds for updates and links as things progress today:



Indeed, good luck, MASCOT!

October 1, 2018: JAXA released this update today:

Hayabusa2 status (the week of 2018.09.24) ★

This week, the MINERVA-II1 rovers that landed on the asteroid last week sent images from the asteroid surface. No regolith was seen in these images, only a shocking scenery of large and small boulders. On the other hand, the scenes of sunlight on the asteroid and the rover hopping were both very beautiful and dynamic. Next week is the deployment of the MASCOT lander. The decent operation is always a nervous time and we want to deliver the lander steadily and carefully. (Regolith: fine grain sediments).

Apparently some asteroids do have regolith.

Meanwhile, MASCOT tweeted yesterday:


Check out the MASCOT Twitter feed for more of those wonderful messages people have sent before the descent begins, day after tomorrow.

September 27, 2018: First movie ever taken on an asteroid:


Check out the Twitter feed for more breath-taking images and updates; the rovers are hopping!

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


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



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Guest Videos: OSIRIS-REx Mission to Bennu

November 5, 2018: They’re getting close enough to image the asteroid now, and have found something intriguing:


We’ve gone into a space a lot this week–let’s keep going and celebrate the launch of OSIRIS-REx on September 8, 2016.


Mission page

Here’s an update. (Note: Look at the graphic on the wall behind her when they tell you what DSN is – that’s actually showing the Deep Space Network in real-time operation, and the moving lines are transmissions to and from various spacecraft.)

And here’s the basic mission . . .

WAIT! WHAT ABOUT ME????!!!–Asteroid Bennu

Oh, all right, Bennu:

Now then, here’s the basic OSIRIS-REx mission video.

Featured image: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

A Close But Safe Asteroid Encounter

I just found out about this: in about 20 minutes from the time of writing these words, the Virtual Telescope Project is going to stream the close encounter of a near-Earth object – 2018 VD1.

It’s less than 50 feet across and about 70,000 miles away. Astronomers only discovered this asteroid yesterday this week! Here is more information.

This is definitely going to lead to a post next week on near-Earth objects!

Update: Apparently there’s still a half-hour to go:

Update 2: Just a poster thus far. Waiting….Ah!

Featured image: Not 2018 VD1, but another object, illustrated by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Guest Video: Oumuamua: The First Interstellar Visitor

November 5, 2018:


This link, per Jason Major, is to a draft PDF download of the paper that spurred this discussion. Of course we all want the answer to every cosmic question to be (friendly) aliens, but that low mass-to-area “solar sail” hypothesis is certainly believable, given Oumuamua’s unusual shape.

Original post (and first update)

Oumuamua has been tumbling through interstellar space for a LONG time.

Also, per the reference at that link, it’s apparently red!

Update, July 1, 2018: Huh, that’s weird.

Featured image by Free-Photos, Pixabay. Public domain.