Earlier, two Japanese rovers jumped on the surface of the asteroid Ryugu. Now they were joined by a landing gear. MASCOT separated from the Japanese spacecraft Hayabusa-2 and landed on an asteroid that is 326 million kilometers away from Earth.
At that time, Hayabusa-2 was located at an altitude of 51 m from the surface of the asteroid. If everything goes according to plan, then a few minutes after the deployment, the device should bounce several times and stop. However, it is difficult to predict in which direction and how many times MASCOT will jump. The main thing is that he was not in a very viscous area (there is a high risk of getting stuck). Scientists have tested many scenarios in advance and are optimistic.
The observations recorded a successful separation between MASCOT and Hayabusa-2. A subsequent update showed the actual separation time and the range between the device and the probe. Also, do not forget that the MINERVA-II1A and MINERVA-II1B (1.1 kg) rovers are already jumping along Ryuga, which were launched on September 21. They landed successfully and began to study the terrain of the 900-meter object.
The Japanese ship Hayabusa-2 is approaching Ryugu asteroid on the night of October 2, 2018 before the deployment of MASCOT. Picture taken at an altitude of 130 m
The autonomous MASCOT unit for movement also uses the principle of jumping with the help of a metal “pivoting lever” inside it. The landing gear can use this lever for self-government on an asteroid surface. For data acquisition use 4 devices: cameras, radiometer, spectrometer and magnetometer. MASCOT will have to work quickly, as the battery is designed for only 16 hours of work, and it will not be able to charge. The cost of the Hayabusa-2 mission cost $ 150 million. It started in December 2014 and arrived in the asteroid orbit at the end of June 2018. The probe also has another optional MINERVA-II2 rover, which can be launched to the surface in 2019. Hayabusa-2 gradually approaches the object in order to lower the impact mechanism and collect material from the crater formed. If all goes well, in December 2020 asteroid samples will be delivered to Earth.
Landing location for the MASCOT vehicle (light blue area) on Ryugu asteroid. The mechanism is expected to jump back several times, so a wide area was chosen.
The data obtained by the mission will allow a better understanding of the early history of the solar system and the role that carbon-rich asteroids played for the emergence of life on Earth. NASA also has an asteroid mining mission. The OSIRIS-REx probe should go into the orbit of the 500-meter Bennu asteroid on December 31 and return the samples in September 2023.