The shadow of the satellite Hayabusa-2 was imprinted on the photographs of the asteroid Ryugu, produced during the general preparation of the spacecraft for deployment of the landing gear in October. This is the descent of the ground-based MASCOT apparatus in the zone of the southern hemisphere. During the mission, Hayabusa-2 will deploy several rovers and make landings.
Representatives of the Japanese agency JAXA reported that during the events of September 10-12, a small shadow was recorded in the pictures. The spacecraft dropped to a height of about 600 m and received navigation images using an optical camera.
The Japanese probe Hayabusa-2 cast a shadow on the surface of the asteroid Ryugu in new pictures
The shadow was created due to the “opposition effect”. This happens when the angle between the Sun, the surface of a celestial body and the point of observation approaches zero. In this case, the sunlight is located behind the spacecraft, casting a shadow on the asteroid. The effect of the opposition also manifested itself in an amazing form, when Hayabusa (the predecessor of the second ship) captured his own shadow in 2005 on the Itokawa asteroid. The Hayabusa-2 mission (cost - $ 150 million) arrived at Ryugu asteroid June 27 to explore a 950-meter asteroid for 16 months. The satellite plans to leave the facility in December 2019 and return the samples to Earth in December 2020.
NASA also has an OSIRIS-REx asteroid project, which is in the final approach to the Bennu asteroid (due to reach orbit in December). He is expected to return samples to Earth in September 2023.
Samples will help scientists understand the exact composition of asteroids and obtain data on the early history and evolution of the solar system. Also, cosmic rocks may be important for the origin of earthly life, as they are able to transport water, organic materials and other ingredients.