Japan's Hayabusa2 spacecraft grabs epic close-up just 30 feet above asteroid
The Japanese asteroid-hunter had another photo opportunity when it dropped a target marker on asteroid Ryugu.
The Japanese space agency, JAXA, has been circling the asteroid Ryugu with its spacecraft Hayabusa2 for almost a year now and the agency has even shot a cannonball at the space rock.
That shotbut the agency wanted to go again -- and collect debris from further inside Ryugu.
On May 30,that brought its spacecraft within 9 meters (approximately 30 feet) of Ryugu to drop a target marker on its surface. The success of the mission was documented by the spacecraft's official Twitter account (because it's 2019), but on June 5, the agency released a photo that is absolutely wild
Let's pause for a second and consider this:
The above image comes from a 600-kilogram, refrigerator-sized robot traveling at about 15 miles per second, around 170 million miles from Earth. It shows the shadow of the Hayabusa2 spacecraft and just below that shadow a tiny, spherical shadow. That tiny shadow is the target marker being released onto the asteroid. Crazy, huh?
The image was captured by CAM-H, one of Hayabusa2's suite of instruments that has previously captured touchdown on Ryugu. The small monitor camera was built and installed on the spacecraft thanks to public donations.
We've seen some fantastic images from the surface of Ryugu during Hayabusa2's mission. Two tinyin 2018, providing some incredible close-ups. Hayabusa2 will move to sample the asteroid for a second time later this year, before returning to Earth with samples in December 2020.
Japanese probe readies for another possible touch-and-go on asteroid
Approaching the one-year anniversary since its arrival at asteroid Ryugu, Japan’s Hayabusa 2 spacecraft has deployed a target marker near an artificial crater created by an explosive charge in April, a guide post that could help the probe steer toward another pinpoint touchdown to collect a second batch of samples for return to Earth.
That assumes mission managers approve plans for a second touch-and-go landing on the asteroid. The maneuver would come with some risk, and scientists believe Hayabusa 2 has already retrieved enough asteroid material to meet minimum mission success criteria.
Hayabusa 2 approached within around 30 feet, or 9 meters, from Ryugu’s surface May 30 and dropped a bright white target marker over the location where an explosive impactor deployed from the spacecraft struck the asteroid in early April. Mission designers put the Small Carry-On Impactor on Hayabusa 2 to expose material from within the asteroid, bits of rock that were shielded from radiation and other asteroid weathering affects from sunlight and extreme temperature swings.
The spacecraft gathered samples from Ryugu’s surface in February. Engineers designed Hayabusa 2 to collect samples from up to three locations on the asteroid, but mission managers have likely ruled out gathering a third sample.
Hayabusa 2 tried to drop the target marker during a previous descent in mid-May, but the craft autonomously aborted its approach to the asteroid at an altitude of about 160 feet (50 meters) after its laser altimeter made an incorrect distance measurement. Ground controllers re-planned the descent and successfully completed the target marker’s deployment May 30.
The two close approaches over the freshly-carved crater last month provided high-resolution images for ground teams to analyze before a final decision on whether to proceed with a second sampling attempt.
Ryugu measures about 3,000 feet (900 meters) in diameter, and scientists classify it as a C-type asteroid, meaning it is rich in carbon and other building blocks necessary for life.
Developed and operated by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, Hayabusa 2 arrived at Ryugu last June, and is set to depart the asteroid in November or December for the return cruise to Earth powered by ion thrusters. But first, Hayabusa 2 will release its fourth and final rover to hop across the asteroid, following the successfully exploration of Ryugu’s surface by three mobile robots last year.
The spacecraft will jettison a re-entry capsule protected by a thermal shield to plunge into Earth’s atmosphere in December 2020, when the return craft will parachute to a landing in Australia.
Scientists will transfer the asteroid specimens to laboratories for detailed analysis in hopes of learning more about the history of the solar system.
Hayabusa2 probe's new target marker on asteroid only 3 meters off its mark
TOKYO -- A target marker released by Japan's Hayabusa2 space probe in late May to guide its landing onto the asteroid Ryugu fell just 3 meters away from the spot the probe was aiming for, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) said on June 11.
The drop is regarded as highly accurate given that Ryugu is located some 300 million kilometers away from Earth.
Hayabusa2 started descending toward Ryugu on June 11. The probe will examine the surface near the target marker in detail and determine whether to go through with a second landing, which follows an earlier one made in February.
The probe released the target marker from about 10 meters above the asteroid's surface on May 30. The marker is covered in reflective material and lights up when exposed to a flash from Hayabusa, acting like a lighthouse to guide the probe to the correct spot.
This time the target marker fell practically where JAXA had hoped, but since the surface of Ryugu is rocky, the space agency will conduct a detailed examination to determine whether it is a point where the probe can land again without hitting any rocks.
Hayabusa2 released its first target marker in October last year, landing about 15.4 meters away from the spot the probe's team was aiming for. Using this target marker as a reference point, the probe made a landing on a separate, smaller space on the asteroid in February. The probe is believed to have collected materials from the asteroid's surface.
In April, an artificial crater was created on the asteroid by firing an impactor from the probe onto the asteroid's surface in a historic first. This time, JAXA aims to make a second landing and obtain material from inside the crater.
(Japanese original by Tomohiro Ikeda, Science & Environment News Department, and Etsuko Nagayama, Opinion Group)
Quelle: The Mainichi
The Pinpoint Touchdown – Target
Marker 1A (PPTD-TM1A) operation
During the PPTD-TM1 operation between May 14〜16, the spacecraft descended to an altitude of about 50m before autonomously stopping the descent and beginning to rise. This abort by the spacecraft was due to an incorrect distance measurement by the laser altimeter (LIDAR) and meant that the target marker could not be dropped. Despite this, it was possible to image around the artificial crater at low altitude. The name of this next operation is ‘PPTD-TM1A’, denoting it as the second operation with almost the same plan as PPTD-TM1. PPTD stands for ‘Pinpoint Touchdown’ while ‘TM1’ refers to the separation of the first target marker for this touchdown.
In the previous PPTD-TM1 operation, the plan was to descend towards the region SO1 and drop the target marker. In PPTD-TM1A, the target marker will be dropped in area CO1, near area SO1. The location is shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1 is the same image as shown in previous articles, displaying the surface of the asteroid before the generation of the artificial crater. Figure 2 shows the image taken as the spacecraft rose during the PPTD-TM1 operation. The addition of Figure 2 allowed the area around the artificial crater to be understood more clearly, and the area CO1 to be investigated in more detail. The examination revealed the possibility of a touchdown in area CO1. It was therefore decided to descend towards area CO1 and this time, drop the target marker in this region.
Figure 2: Surface of the asteroid around the artificial crater imaged during the PPTD-TM1 operation. This is a superposition of two images taken from altitudes of about 0.5km and 0.6km. These images were captured on May 16, 2019 with the Optical Navigation Camera – Telescopic (ONC-T).
(Credit: JAXA, University of Tokyo, Kochi University, Rikkyo University, Nagoya University, Chiba Institute of Technology, Meiji University, University of Aizu, AIST.)
The PPTD-TM1A operation will be performed from May 28〜30, 2019. The plan for the operation is almost the same as for PPTD-TM1. Preparation for the descent will take place on May 28 and the spacecraft will start the descent on May 29 at 12:06 JST (on-board time) at a speed of 0.4 m/s. On the same day at 22:26 JST, the spacecraft speed will be reduced to 0.1 m/s. The descent will continue to reach an altitude of about 35m on May 30 at 11:00 JST, and then to 10m at 11:23 JST, the lowest point. The target marker will be separated just before the lowest altitude is reached. The spacecraft will then soon begin to rise and return to the home position on May 31. The operation schedule is shown in Figure 3. Please be aware that the actual operation times may differ as the times listed here are the planned values.
Figure 4 shows the sequence at low altitude. This is almost the same as for the PPTD-TM1 operation.
Figure 4: PPTD-TM1A low altitude sequence operation. (Credit: JAXA.) 27.05.2019
Received time: UTC 2019-05-30 01:59
Low descent observation operation
The low descent observation operation (PPTD-TM1B) will be conducted between June 11 - 13. As we successfully dropped a target marker in area CO1 during the PPTD-TM1A operation that was performed between May 28 – 30, a target marker will not be dropped during PPTD-TM1B, but observations will be taken near the artificial crater.
Preparations for the descent began on June 11 and the descent will begin on June 12 at 11:40 JST (on-board time) with the spacecraft descending at a speed of 0.4m/s. The speed will be reduced to 0.1 m/s at 22:00 JST on the same day. The spacecraft will read an altitude of about 35m on June 13 at 10:34 JST and then begin to ascend from 10:57 JST. The schedule of the operation is shown in Figure 1. Please be aware that the actual operation time may differ as the times shown are the planned values.
Figure 2 shows the operation sequence at low altitude.
Japan's space probe to collect samples from asteroid in July
TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Japan's Hayabusa2 space probe will make its second landing on a distant asteroid to collect debris samples from the crater that it made in April, the country's space agency said Tuesday.
The probe is set to land on the Ryugu asteroid, some 340 million kilometers from Earth, on July 11, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency said.
JAXA said it initially planned to bring Hayabusa2 back to Earth, rather than attempt a second landing, but the agency's associate professor Yuichi Tsuda said, "We have sufficient technology to land (the probe). There is no option but to embark on this challenge."
Launched in December 2014 from the Tanegashima Space Center in southwestern Japan, Hayabusa2 reached the Ryugu asteroid last June.
It touched down in February to collect surface samples and found hydrated minerals which are expected to help scientists determine whether asteroids were responsible for bringing water to Earth.
The probe subsequently created a crater approximately 10 meters wide by firing a metal projectile at the asteroid's surface in April.
The agency hopes to collect the scattered underground samples which, unlike those from the surface, will not have been exposed to the sun or cosmic radiation.
Hayabusa2 will aim to touch down in a 7-meter wide area, about 20 meters north-northwest of the crater, which is believed to contain piles of rock samples approximately 1 centimeter high, resulting from the projectile collision.
The temperature of the asteroid's surface is set to rise as it nears the sun, making landing conditions difficult for Hayabusa2. Although JAXA planned to land the probe in early July, calculations indicated a safe landing later in the month.
An alternative landing is feasible in the week of July 22 if initial plans are postponed, the agency said.
Quelle: The Mainichi
Hayabusa2 to attempt second landing on asteroid
Japan's space agency says it will try to have the Hayabusa2 space probe make a second landing on the asteroid Ryugu next month.
Engineers at the Japan Space Exploration Agency, or JAXA, first landed Hayabusa2 on the asteroid in February.
In April, the probe fired a metal object into Ryugu's surface and created a 10-meter-wide crater.
JAXA has been considering whether the probe can land in or near the crater to collect underground rock samples exposed by the impact.
Last month, the probe dropped a target marker near the crater and captured images of the asteroid's terrain for a topographical analysis of the possible landing site.
JAXA engineers confirmed that the probe's camera and other equipment that were slightly damaged by the first landing are usable, and that there are no big rocks at the candidate site. They gave the go-ahead for a landing on July 11.
Hayabusa2 is scheduled to begin its descent from an altitude of 20,000 meters at around 10 a.m. on July 10 Japan time, and touch down on the asteroid's surface about 25 hours later.
JAXA project manager Yuichi Tsuda says they cannot afford to take risks because the probe is believe to be carrying samples collected after its first landing. But he added that its collecting underground rock samples would be the first ever and is worth a try.
Hayabusa 2 cleared for second touchdown on asteroid
Ground teams have approved plans for Japan’s Hayabusa 2 sample return mission to briefly land on asteroid Ryugu for the second time July 11, aiming for a targeted touch-and-go to gather material exposed by an explosive impactor released by the robot explorer in April.
Officials from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, announced the decision June 27 after weeks of surveys, practice approaches and deliberations to ensure the Hayabusa 2 spacecraft can safely touch down at the rugged site, which is strewn with boulders and rocks that could pose hazards to the probe.
The objective of the July 11 touch-and-go landing is to collect a second set of samples from the carbon-rich asteroid for return to Earth.
Hayabusa 2 is in the final stretch of a nearly 18-month exploration campaign at asteroid Ryugu before firing its ion thrusters late this year for the return trip to Earth. So far, the mission has accomplished a pinpoint landing and takeoff from the asteroid, deployed three daughter probes to hop around Ryugu’s surface, and carved a new crater on the asteroid after dropping an explosive charge.
One more touch-and-go landing and the release of the mission’s final mobile surface scout are planned in the coming weeks.
Hayabusa 2 gathered a first batch of samples from Ryugu’s surface in February after executing a pinpoint touchdown on a different part of the half-mile-wide (900-meter) asteroid.
The robot explorer’s sampling mechanism works by firing a metal bullet into the asteroid once the probe’s sampler horn, which extends from one side of the spacecraft, contacts the surface. The projectile is designed to blast away rock and dust on the asteroid’s surface, then direct the material through the sampler horn into a collection chamber inside the Hayabusa 2 spacecraft.
While there is no direct way to measure how much sample Hayabusa 2 collected in February, scientists said telemetry data broadcast back to Earth suggested the sampling system worked as designed.
In early April, Hayabusa 2 released the Small Carry-On Impactor, an explosive device that drove a copper mass into the asteroid to create a new crater, uncovering rocks that were buried underneath Ryugu’s surface, perhaps for billions of years.
Scientists will target the July 11 landing a short distance from the fresh crater, where they believe material ejected by the impact fell. The new samples may include pristine subsurface specimens that have escaped radiation and other asteroid weathering affects from sunlight and extreme temperature swings.
A second successful sampling attempt would make Hayabusa 2 the first mission to collect a subsurface specimen from an asteroid for return Earth.
Assuming the July 11 touch-and-go snags a sample that was exposed by the mission’s explosive impactor, scientists expect the material will contain information from the early formation of the solar system 4.6 billion years ago, such as organic molecules that became the building blocks for life.
“Subsurface materials are particularly valuable for sensitive organics,” scientists wrote in a mission update last month.
Engineers designed Hayabusa 2 to collect samples from up to three locations on the asteroid, but mission managers have ruled out gathering a third sample. The mission only needed one sample to meet minimum success criteria.
During preparations for the second sampling attempt, Hayabusa 2 dropped a target marker onto the asteroid May 30 to help the spacecraft guide itself toward the landing zone. The probe also took high-resolution images of the area to help scientists decide if they should press ahead with another touchdown.
Officials mulled the scientific merit and safety risks of a second landing attempt, and the ground team ultimately elected to go ahead with the touchdown July 11.
Hayabusa 2 had until this month to try for a second touchdown. Ryugu is nearing the point in its orbit closest to the run, and rising temperatures on the asteroid will prohibit the spacecraft from landing later this year, officials said.
While Hayabusa 2 explores Ryugu, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission is surveying asteroid Bennu before moving in to collect a sample there in 2020 for return to scientists on Earth in 2023.
OSIRIS-REx is designed to bring home at least 60 grams, or 2.1 ounces of samples from Bennu, significantly more than Hayabusa 2. But OSIRIS-REx is only expected to collect a single sample from one location on Bennu’s surface.
Once the second sample collection is complete, Hayabusa 2 is expected to deploy the last of its four daughter probes to hop around the asteroid’s surface.
Hayabusa 2’s return journey to Earth is scheduled begin in November or December, with re-entry of the mission’s sample-carrying descent capsule set for late 2020 over Australia, where recovery teams will pick up the specimens for analysis in laboratories in Japan and the United States.