MASCOT: A 'shoebox' with complex inner workings
The 'small’ asteroid lander MASCOT will set off for asteroid 1999 JU3 on board the Japanese Hayabusa-2 mission at the end of 2014. Although from the outside it seems to be the size of a shoebox, the lander’s stature is deceiving! Its sophisticated and highly developed payload, and its powerful communication and computing system make MASCOT a high-tech, albeit very compact, autonomous spacecraft, perfectly equipped to cope with the arduous and long mission it faces.
This project has many different facets; it will face several 'first' stages during which its work will be groundbreaking. MASCOT is not just the first DLR/CNES/JAXA-cooperation, it also demonstrates how the expertise of several DLR institutes can be pooled to complete and achieve ambitious goals in tandem. What we are talking about here is a landing by the very first self-propelling measurement laboratory on an asteroid.
We have already completed and successfully mastered several test campaigns this year alone. And these heady days will continue in what remains of the year. Nearly 50 different campaigns of all types and sizes are hurtling our way. With almost no opportunity to draw breath due to the numerous, sometimes parallel test activities (concurrent assembly, integration and verification), my team colleagues and I will be constantly involved in completing, preparing or following up test campaigns. But we still hope that from time to time we will have the opportunity to keep you updated on how the project is progressing.
The Japanese JAXA colleagues conducting shock and vibration tests on MASCOT
Thermal vacuum test: simulating the ambient conditions during flight
Functional tests on the asteroid lander MASCOT (Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout)
MASCOT in the drop tower – 4.7 seconds of microgravity
All images: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)
Since 2012, Christian Grimm has been working as a researcher at the DLR Institute of Space Systems in the Department of Exploration Systems. Since late 2011 he has been part of the MASCOT team preparing and coordinating the mission of the asteroid lander on the Japanese parent probe Hayabusa-2.