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 successfully 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, 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, images of the success were released by the agency — and its photo is absolutely wild.(approx. 30 feet) of Ryugu to drop a
Let’s pause for a second and consider this:
The above image comes from a 600-kilogram, refrigerator-sized robot travelling 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., 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.