The Japanese Hayabusa-2 spacecraft continues its deployment of remote-control systems onto the asteroid Ryuga (see earlier posting here about deployment of two micro-rovers). On Wednesday the spacecraft released the MASCOT (Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout) lander, which was built by the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and the French Space Agency (CNES).

MASCOT has four primary scientific tools to study the surface of the small asteroid:

  • MicrOmega – a hyperspectral infrared microscope to analyze the mineralogical properties of the surface materials.
  • MASCAM – “a multispectral wide field camera to provide geological images of the asteroid”.
  • MARA – a radiometer “to determine the surface temperature and the thermal inertia of the asteroid”.
  • MASMAG – a magnetometer, which measures magnetic field strength.

This video previewed the MASCOT mission, which lasted about 17 hours before its batteries ran out:

Artist’s view of the deployment of MASCOT:

“Left: Illustration of MASCOT separating from Hayabusa2. Right: Illustration of MASCOT landing on the surface of Ryugu. (Image credit: JAXA)”

The target area for the MASCOT “landing”:

MASCOT landing site candidate region (light blue area). Since MASCOT is expected to bounce several times after first touching down, a reasonably wide region is selected. (Image credit: JAXA, University of Tokyo, Kochi University, Rikkyo University, Nagoya University, Chiba Institute of Technology, Meiji University, University of Aizu, AIST, CNES, DLR). “

See also

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Chasing New Horizons: Inside the Epic First Mission to Pluto