Andrew Jones • July 11, 2019
Spacecraft completes second landing at 01:07 UTC on 11 July, forward of returning to Earth with 2 units of samples.
Japan’s Hayabusa2 spacecraft has touched down on Ryugu for a second time, bagging samples which hopefully comprise materials from the subsurface of the asteroid.
A live webcast from JAXA’s mission management room in Sagamihara confirmed operations in motion and scenes of applause following the spacecraft’s profitable, correct setting down in space C01-Cb, near a synthetic crater generated by the SCI impact in April.
Hayabusa2 touched down at 01:07 UTC with the signal confirming the excellent news reaching Earth at 01:20 UTC.
The operation’s success brings important engineering and science achievement: finishing up the primary robotic multi-sampling mission of a celestial physique and the potential assortment of subsurface materials excavated by the prior experimental influence.
Hayabusa2 started its descent towards Ryugu at 01:46 UTC 10 July with a velocity of about 40 centimeters per second, aiming for landing about 02:00 UTC 11 July. Hayabusa2 had dropped a reflective softball-sized marker to the surface in early June which helped information the spacecraft’s descent and touchdown close to the artificial crater.
At 30 meters altitude Hayabusa2 oriented itself for touchdown, seeing its high-gain antenna level away from Earth. This meant mission controllers misplaced telemetry and had been briefly ready solely to observe Doppler shifts within the sign from the spacecraft’s low-gain antenna for indicators of progress. At 01:20 UTC a doppler shift obtained after 13 minutes of journey indicated that Hayabusa2 had pushed its meter-long pattern horn into Ryugu and had then instantly began to ascend.
Round 20 minutes after landing antenna switching came about, with the high-gain antenna as soon as once more sending telemetry again to Earth, carrying data relating to the spacecraft. Affirmation that the landing sequence proceeded as deliberate adopted at 01:51, prompting celebrations within the JAXA management room. Affirmation adopted later that the sampling motion—the firing of a tantalum bullet—was profitable.
The mission workforce then deliberate the downloading of photos to carry additional affirmation of the success of the sampling operation, together with imagery from the sampling horn.
[PPTD] These photos had been taken earlier than and after landing by the small monitor digital camera (CAM-H). The primary is four seconds earlier than landing, the second is at landing itself and the third is four seconds after landing. Within the third picture, you may see the quantity of rocks that rise. pic.twitter.com/ssZU5TV3x9
Driving a second touchdown
The primary landing in February noticed Hayabusa2 efficiently gather samples from the primitive C-type asteroid Ryugu, attaining one of many predominant science targets of the mission.
JAXA and ISAS nevertheless determined to proceed with a second landing in an effort to enhance pattern quantity, carry out an unprecedented multi-sampling from a planetary physique and, crucially, gather subsurface materials excavated by the SCI experiment. In doing so the workforce will purpose to reply questions relating to the very low reflectance of Ryugu, give perception into the regional heterogeneity of celestial our bodies and, by means of comparability, assess the influence of photo voltaic wind on the floor.
The operation was not with out danger, particularly as Ryugu doesn’t provide massive, flat areas for touchdown. After web site imaging with optical navigation cameras, confirming a sufficiently protected landing operation and assessing the situation of each the spacecraft and people on Ryugu, the choice to proceed with an try at a second touchdown was taken. Ought to the try have been halted, one other window of alternative was chosen for the tip of July, simply earlier than the asteroid’s floor temperature is predicted to rise too excessive because it approaches perihelion.
[PPTD] This animation exhibits the DEM (digital elevation map) close to the 2nd landing level (© JAXA, College of Tokyo & collaborators). That is additionally from our operation article: https://t.co/qaS3JZDAdF pic.twitter.com/bgpVj8m74X
Within the close to future for Hayabusa2 is the potential deployment of MINERVA-II-2, a small rover, presently anticipated after July. Hayabusa2 is then anticipated to depart Ryugu round November or December utilizing its ion thrusters and head again to Earth, delivering the sample-return capsule for a touchdown in Australia close to the tip of 2020.