Hayabusa 2 Has Despatched its Final Rover to Ryugu

Japan’s Hayabusa 2 mission to asteroid Ryugu has reached one in every of its ultimate milestones, if not its climax. The sample-return spacecraft has launched the Minerva-II2 rover on the asteroid. That is the final of 4 rovers that Hayabusa 2 is deploying on Ryugu.

Minerva-II2 is definitely two elements in a single, and the launch process has distinct phases.

Minerva-II2 is an octagonal-prism formed container that holds the precise rover, named Rover 2. The container solely weights about 1 kg (2.2 lbs) and carries an accelerometer, a thermometer, and twin cameras. It additionally has each optical and ultraviolet LEDs.

Hayabusa 2 launched Minerva-II2 on September 28th from an altitude of about 20km, and the container descended slowly. At 1 km altitude, Rover 2 separated from the Minerva-II2 container. At that time, Rover 2 continued on its option to Ryugu’s floor, whereas Hayabusa 2 adopted it half method. Hayabusa 2 is now climbing to an observing top of about 10 km to observe Rover 2’s descent.

By October eighth, Rover 2 ought to land.

Minerva-II2 and Rover2’s descent profile. BOX-C operation refers to hovering by Hayabusa 2 extending vertically to allow observations at low-altitude. Picture Credit score: JAXA

Rover 2 is barely totally different from the opposite rovers on Hayabusa 2. It was developed by a consortium of Japanese universities. It’s totally different from Minerva-II1 as a result of its main objective was to substantiate navigation round a low-mass, low-gravity physique like Ryugu. That’s why it was deployed from a a lot increased altitude then Minerva-II1, (1 km vs 50 meters) and that ‘s why Hayabusa is watching its lengthy, sluggish descent from about 10 km (6.2 miles) away.

Hayabusa 2 carried two Minerva’s. Minerva-II1 carried two rovers, and Minerva-II2 carried just one. Picture Credit score: JAXA

The rover itself, Rover 2, was added as an ‘outreach payload’ for Japanese Universities, in line with JAXA. However there is likely to be an issue.

In line with JAXA, Rover 2’s CPU is likely to be experiencing issues, and will not be capable of talk knowledge again to Hayabusa 2 from the floor of Ryugu. JAXA is deploying it anyway, since its descent to Ryugu is a major a part of its mission.

Minerva-II-2 will open up like this when it’s about 1 km above Ryugu, then it can deploy Rover 2 to the floor of the asteroid. Picture Credit score: JAXA

JAXA tweeted an image of Minerva-II2 after separation. In addition they tweeted a photograph of the crew at mission management celebrating the second.

[MINERVA-II2] Group picture to celebrating the profitable separation of MINERVA-II2! It’s properly previous midnight and at the moment are somewhat drained… however the operation is ongoing! Sooner or later, we are going to observe the orbital movement of MINERVA-II2 after its separation. pic.twitter.com/BLqS9UQB8I

— [email protected] (@haya2e_jaxa) October 2, 2019

Now it’s a ready recreation. By October eighth we must always know if Rover 2 landed efficiently, and if it’s transmitting knowledge correctly. Whether it is, it’s one other achievement on this essential mission to know historical asteroids and what they’ll train us about planet formation within the early Photo voltaic System.

The large prize is the asteroid samples, although. Hayabusa 2 is primarily a sample-return mission. These samples have been collected, each floor and sub-surface, they usually’ll be returned to Earth in December 2020.

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