The MASCOT lander’s view of asteroid Ryugu’s lumpy, bumpy surface was displayed during a post-mission news conference. Click on the image for more from German science writer Daniel Fischer’s Skyweek 2.0 website. (DLR Photo / Processed by Daniel Fischer)
Japan’s Hayabusa 2 probe and the German-French MASCOT lander have teamed up to send back amazing views of an asteroid that’s more than 180 million miles from Earth, including a snapshot of the lander falling toward the asteroid and an on-the-ground view of its rocky terrain.
Scientists shared the images today during a recap of MASCOT’s successful 17-hour survey of the asteroid Ryugu. Hayabusa 2, which has been hovering above the half-mile-wide asteroid for weeks, dropped the foot-wide, boxy lander onto the surface on Wednesday.
MASCOT used its four instruments — a camera, a radiometer, a magnetometer and an infrared spectrometer — to conduct a scientific sweep, using its robotic swing arm as necessary to hop around the surface. It was able to upload a treasure trove of imagery and data to Hayabusa 2 for storage before its batteries ran out.
“With MASCOT, it has been possible to, for the first time, explore the surface of an asteroid directly on site ...