Sunday, March 4, 2018

Hayabusa 2 Spacecraft Images Asteroid Ryugu

An image of the asteroid Ryugu taken by the Hayabusa 2 probe (Provided by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and University of Tokyo)

Japan’s asteroid probe Hayabusa 2 has succeeded in snapping a picture of Ryugu, a minor planet 300 million kilometers from the Earth, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) announced March 1.

"Now that we see Ryugu, the Hayabusa 2 project has shifted to the final preparation stage for arrival at the asteroid. There are no problems with the route towards Ryugu or the performance of the spacecraft, and we will be proceeding with maximum thrust," explains Project Manager, Yuichi Tsuda.

Hayabusa 2 took its first photo of Ryugu on Feb. 26 from a distance of 1.3 million kilometers. Ryugu as seen from Hayabusa 2 is in the direction of the constellation Pisces.

The photographs were captured by the ONC-T (Optical Navigation Camera - Telescopic) onboard the spacecraft. The ONC-T was developed under collaboration between JAXA, the University of Tokyo, Kochi University, Rikkyo University, Nagoya University, Chiba Institute of Technology, Meiji University, The University of Aizu, the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST).

The asteroid was believed to be almost spherical with a diameter of about 900 meters, but its shape will become clearer as Hayabusa 2 approaches even closer to it.

Hayabusa 2, launched in December 2014, will arrive at Ryugu in June or July if everything goes according to plan.


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