An unimaginable new animation from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency exhibits the Hayabusa2 spacecraft completing its second touchdown operation, on July 11.
The animation, which performs at 10 times the precise speed of the landing, illustrates the spacecraft touching down on, after which receding from, the asteroid Ryugu. Hayabusa2 took the video of the landing with its monitor digital camera, Cam-H, which is pointed previously to the craft’s sampling mechanism (or sampler horn). Cam-H, which was created via a collaborative effort between JAXA and the Tokyo University of Science, was put in with the help of public donations.
The craft’s sampler horn, which might be seen in the video pointed “downward,” towards Ryugu, picked up new samples from the asteroid. Prior to touchdown on the asteroid, Hayabusa2 dropped a bright, white marker onto Ryugu’s surface. This helped mission workers to slowly and thoroughly land the craft in the right spot.
Upon touching down on Ryugu, the spacecraft fired a bullet (made from tantalum, steel that would not confuse scientists if it ended up in samples) into the asteroid, blasting up debris. Materials from Ryugu made its way into Hayabusa2’s sampler horn, after which the craft lifted back up, leaving the asteroid.
Hayabusa2 first touched down on Ryugu in February of this year, landing on the asteroid after which rapidly bouncing away. In April, simply a couple of months after this impressive maneuver, the spacecraft fired a copper plate hooked up to explosives into the asteroid, blasting away the surface to show the material beneath.