Space probe on asteroid

05 Octobre, 2018, 09:40 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • Space probe on asteroid

MASCOT took 20 photos during its slow descent toward Ryugu, and these images are stored aboard Hayabusa2 at the moment, mission team members said. A land full of wonder, mystery and danger!,' the @MASCOT2018 account tweeted.

A shoebox-sized lander called the Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout (MASCOT) has landed on the Ryugu asteroid.

The asteroid is now on the other side of the sun from Earth, more than 186 million miles away.

In this handout photograph taken and released by Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS) of Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) on October 3, 2018, researchers and employees applaud at a control room in Sagamihara, Kanagawa prefecture, during the French-German Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout (MASCOT) deployment operation.

That was the first time a moving, robotic observation device has successfully landed on an asteroid.

Data collected at the Ryugu, and their analysis will help researchers better understand what was the early Solar system and also the role played in the origin of life on Earth the carbon-enriched rocks, like the Ryuga. The 16 hours in which the lander will conduct measurements on the asteroid's surface have begun for the worldwide team of engineers and scientists.

MASCOT is following in the footsteps of MINERVA-II1A and MINERVA-II1B, two 2.4-lb.

Taking advantage of the asteroid's low gravity, the rovers will jump around on the surface.

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Unlike those rovers, MASCOT can turn on its side, but for the most part is immobile.

But MASCOT doesn't have a long battery life: It has just 16 hours to gather all the data it can, over the course of two Ryugu days.

"From the lander's telemetry, we were able to see that it separated from the mothercraft and made contact with the asteroid surface approximately 20 minutes later", Ho added.

The probe will then hover over the artificial crater and collect samples using an extended arm. It can also hop to reorient itself, so its communication antenna is facing Hayabusa-2.

Hayabusa2, about the size of a large fridge and equipped with solar panels, is the successor to JAXA's first asteroid explorer, Hayabusa - Japanese for falcon.

The mission of "Hayabusa-2" was launched in December 2014 of the year and entered the orbit of Ryugu in the second half of June this year.

That probe returned from a smaller, potato-shaped, asteroid in 2010 with dust samples despite various setbacks during an epic seven-year odyssey and was hailed as a scientific triumph.

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