3. October 2018

MAS­COT lands safe­ly on as­ter­oid Ryugu

Shadow of MASCOT over asteroid Ryugu
Shad­ow of MAS­COT over as­ter­oid Ryugu dur­ing the de­scent
Image 1/3, Credit: MASCOT/DLR/JAXA.

Shadow of MASCOT over asteroid Ryugu during the descent

DLR's MAS­CAM cam­era on board MAS­COT ac­quired this im­age as it de­scend­ed to the as­ter­oid Ryugu three and a half min­utes af­ter sep­a­rat­ing from its moth­er­craft Hayabusa2. In the im­age, the lan­der is ap­prox­i­mate­ly 20 me­tres above the as­ter­oid's sur­face, and MAS­COT's shad­ow can be seen at the top right.
Artist's impression of MASCOT during landing
MAS­COT de­scends on­to the as­ter­oid
Image 2/3, Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)

MASCOT descends onto the asteroid

Artist's im­pres­sion of MAS­COT dur­ing land­ing
The MASCOT Control Centre
MAS­COT Con­trol Cen­tre in Cologne
Image 3/3, Credit: ©DLR.

MASCOT Control Centre in Cologne

The MAS­COT as­ter­oid lan­der is con­trolled from the Lan­der Con­trol Cen­tre in Cologne.

Focus: Space, explorartion

The near-Earth asteroid Ryugu, located approximately 300 million kilometres from Earth, has a new inhabitant: On 3 October 2018, the Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout (MASCOT) landed on the asteroid and began to work. The lander successfully separated from the Japanese Hayabusa2 space probe at 03:58 CEST. The 16 hours in which the lander will conduct measurements on the asteroid’s surface have begun for the international team of engineers and scientists. The day before, the Japanese Space Agency's Hayabusa2 began its descent towards Ryugu. MASCOT was ejected at an altitude of 51 metres and descended in free fall – slower than an earthly pedestrian – to its destination, the asteroid. The relief about the successful separation and subsequent confirmation of the landing was clearly noticeable In the MASCOT Control Centre at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) as well as in the adjoining room: "It could not have gone better," explained MASCOT project manager Tra-Mi Ho from the DLR Institute of Space Systems. "From the lander's telemetry, we were able to see that it separated from the mothercraft, and made contact with the asteroid surface approximately 20 minutes later." The team is now in contact with the lander.

The moment of separation was one of the risks of the mission: If MASCOT had not successfully separated from Hayabusa2 as planned and often tested, the lander’s team would hardly have had the opportunity to solve this problem. But everything went smoothly: Already during the descent on the asteroid, the camera switched MASCAM on and took 20 pictures, which are now stored on board the Japanese space probe. "The camera worked perfectly," says Ralf Jaumann, DLR planetary scientist and scientific director of the camera instrument. "The team's first images of the camera are therefore safe." The magnetometer team was also able to recognise in the data sent by MASCOT that the MASMAG instrument had switched on and performed measurements prior to the separation. "The measurements show the relatively weak field of the solar wind and the very strong magnetic disturbances caused by the spacecraft," explains Karl-Heinz Glaßmeier from the Technical University of Braunschweig. "At the moment of the separation, we expected a clear decrease of the interference field – and we were able to recognise this clearly."

MASCOT came to rest on the surface approximately 20 minutes after the separation. Now, the team is analysing the data that MASCOT is sending to Earth to understand the events occurring on the asteroid Ryugu. The lander should now be on the asteroid’s surface, in the correct position thanks to its swing arm, and have started to conduct measurements independently. There are four instruments on board: a DLR camera and radiometer, an infrared spectrometer from the Institut d'Astrophysique Spatiale and a magnetometer from the TU Braunschweig. Once MASCOT has performed all planned measurements, it is expected to hop to another measuring location. This is the first time that scientists will receive data from different locations on an asteroid. "With MASCOT, we have the unique opportunity to study the Solar System’s most primordial material directly on an asteroid," emphasises DLR planetary researcher Ralf Jaumann. With the data acquired by MASCOT and the samples that Hayabusa2 brings to Earth from Ryugu in 2020, scientists will not only learn more about asteroids, but more about the formation of the Solar System. "Asteroids are very primordial celestial bodies."

About the Hayabusa2 mission and MASCOT

Hayabusa2 is a Japanese space agency (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency; JAXA) mission to the near-Earth asteroid Ryugu. The German-French lander MASCOT on board Hayabusa2 was developed by the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) and built in close cooperation with the French space agency CNES (Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales). DLR, the Institut d'Astrophysique Spatiale and the Technical University of Braunschweig have contributed the scientific experiments on board MASCOT. The MASCOT lander and its experiments are operated and controlled by DLR with support from CNES and in constant interaction with the Hayabusa2 team.

The DLR Institute of Space Systems in Bremen was responsible for developing and testing the lander together with CNES. The DLR Institute of Composite Structures and Adaptive Systems in Braunschweig was responsible for the stable structure of the lander. The DLR Robotics and Mechatronics Center in Oberpfaffenhofen developed the swing arm that allows MASCOT to hop on the asteroid. Das DLR Institute of Planetary Research in Berlin contributed the MASCAM camera and the MARA radiometer. The asteroid lander is monitored and operated from the MASCOT Control Center in the Microgravity User Support Center (MUSC) at the DLR site in Cologne.

Contact
  • Falk Dambowsky
    Ed­i­tor
    Ger­man Aerospace Cen­ter (DLR)
    Me­dia Re­la­tions
    Telephone: +49 2203 601-3959
    Fax: +49 2203 601-3249
    Linder Höhe
    51147 Cologne
    Contact
  • Tra-Mi Ho
    Ger­man Aerospace Cen­ter (DLR)
    In­sti­tute of Space Sys­tems
    Telephone: +49 421 24420-1171
    Robert-Hooke-Straße 7
    28359 Bremen
    Contact
  • Christian Krause
    Ger­man Aerospace Cen­ter (DLR)

    Mi­cro­grav­i­ty Us­er Sup­port Cen­ter (MUSC), Space Op­er­a­tions and As­tro­naut Train­ing
    Telephone: +49 2203 601-3048
    Linder Höhe
    51147 Köln
    Contact
  • Manuela Braun
    Com­mu­ni­ca­tion
    Ger­man Aerospace Cen­ter (DLR)
    Strat­e­gy Space R&D
    Telephone: +49 2203 601-3882
    Fax: +49 2203 601-3249
    Hansestraße 115
    51149 Köln
    Contact
  • Prof.Dr. Ralf Jaumann
    Freie Uni­ver­sität Berlin
    In­sti­tute of Ge­o­log­i­cal Sci­ences
    Plan­e­tary Sci­ences and Re­mote Sens­ing
    Telephone: +49-172-2355864
    Malteserstr. 74-100
    12249 Berlin
    Contact

Cookies help us to provide our services. By using our website you agree that we can use cookies. Read more about our Privacy Policy and visit the following link: Privacy Policy

Main menu