The Japanese space agency (JAXA) team announced that space explorer arrives at asteroid Ryugu on the distance about 170 million miles from Earth. Agency shared a photo from robotic mission control, ITV reported.
The robotic explorer will spend about two months looking for suitable landing places on the uneven surface. Due to the high surface temperature, it will stay for only a few seconds each time it lands.
The asteroid, named Ryugu after an undersea palace in a Japanese folktale, is about 900m in diameter. A number of large craters can be seen, which project manager Yuichi Tsuda said in an online post makes the selection of landing points interesting and very difficult. JAXA planned the first touchdown for September or October.
Before the final touchdown scheduled for April-May, Hayabusa2 will send out a squat cylinder that will detonate above the asteroid, shooting a 2kg copper projectile into it at high speed to make a crater.
Dr Makoto Yoshikawa, Hayabusa 2’s mission manager, talked about the plan now that the spacecraft had arrived at its destination.
“At first, we will study very carefully the surface features. Then we will select where to touch down. Touchdown means we get the surface material,”
he told to ITV journalist.
A copper projectile, or “impactor” will separate from the spacecraft, floating down to the surface of the asteroid. Once Hayabusa 2 is safely out of the way, an explosive charge will detonate, driving the projectile into the surface.
“We have an impactor which will create a small crater on the surface of Ryugu. Maybe in spring next year, we will try to make a crater… then our spacecraft will try to reach into the crater to get the subsurface material,”
the researcher said and added that is a very big challenge.