Japan’s Hayabusa2 spacecraft successfully touched down on asteroid 162173 Ryugu for a second time last night (July 10th), and transmitted incredible photos back to JAXA. They show different perspectives as captured by two cameras – main navigation camera and a publicly funded camera pointed past the sampling mechanism – onboard the spacecraft. The former provides views of Ryugu’s surface at touchdown, while the latter shows the nearby rock it collected samples from. “The touchdown is successful,” said JAXA spokesman Takayuki Tomobe Read more for a video, additional pictures and information.
This mission aims to collect pristine materials from beneath the asteroid’s surface that could hopefully provide insights into what the solar system was like at its birth billions of years ago. To make it possible, an impactor was fired from Hayabusa2 towards Ryugu in a risky process that created a crater on the asteroid’s surface back in April. “This is the second touchdown, but doing a touchdown is a challenge whether it’s the first or the second,” said Yuichi Tsuda, Hayabusa2 project manager.
[PPTD] These images were taken immediately after today’s touchdown (Jul 11) with the ONC-W1. First photo was taken at 10:06:32 JST (on-board time) and you can see the gravel flying upwards. Second shot was at 10:08:53 where the darker region near the centre is due to touchdown. pic.twitter.com/6OhrYShz4D