Image taken by Hayabusa2 during the low altitude descent observation operation conducted from June 11 – 13. Asteroid Ryugu is covered with boulders. In attempting a second touchdown, mission controllers need to aim for a point close to a target marker which has no obstacles. The project is currently examining this area in detail.
Credit: JAXA, Chiba Institute of Technology, University of Tokyo, Kochi University, Rikkyo University, Nagoya University, Meiji University, University of Aizu, AIST.


In a recent communiqué, project officials from Japan’s Hayabusa2 asteroid explorer are eyeing a second touchdown of the craft on July 11.

Following the small carry-on impactor (SCI) explosion, Hayabusa2 is on tap to sample the crater.
Credit: JAXA/Screengrab/Inside Outer Space

The touchdown spot is about 65 feet (20 meters) north of the artificial crater formed by the mission’s Small Carry-on Impactor (SCI). Currently, the team is carefully examining and checking touchdown operation plans to enable collection of the uplifted subsurface material from Ryugu as a result of the SCI explosion.

Step by step

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) Hayabusa2’s first touchdown took place this year on February 22.

Mission controllers succeeded in creating an artificial crater using the Small Carry-on Impactor (SCI) on April 5.

After the operation to form the artificial crater, the spacecraft descended a total of four times above or near the crater site. These descent operations allowed controllers to obtain detailed data of the region near the artificial crater.

Credit: JAXA

In addition, Hayabusa2 team members succeeded in dropping a target marker in the area close to the artificial crater on May 30. Combined, these operations mean that the situation around the artificial crater is now well understood, according to Hayabusa2 officials.

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