MASCOT on board Hayabusa2

Mobile asteroid surface scout (MASCOT)
Mobile asteroid surface scout (MASCOT)
Image 1/34, Image: DLR (CC-BY 3.0).

Mobile asteroid surface scout (MASCOT)

MASCOT is a highly-integrated asteroid lander whose development was co-ordinated by DLR scientists collaborating with the French space agency CNES and the Japanese space authority JAXA.

Asteroid lander MASCOT on board the Hayabusa2 space probe
Asteroid lander MASCOT on board the Hayabusa2 space probe
Image 2/34, Image: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)

Asteroid lander MASCOT on board the Hayabusa2 space probe

The Japanese Hayabusa2 space probe has completed a 3200-million-kilometre long journey carrying the German-French lander MASCOT (Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout).

The MASCOT control centre
A look into the MASCOT control centre
Image 3/34, Image: DLR (CC-BY 3.0).

A look into the MASCOT control centre

The asteroid lander MASCOT is monitored and operated from the Microgravity User Support Center (MUSC) in Cologne.

Artist's impression of MASCOT during landing
MASCOT descends onto the asteroid
Image 4/34, Image: DLR (CC-BY 3.0).

MASCOT descends onto the asteroid

Artist's impression of MASCOT during landing

The landing site called 'MA-9'
Landing on the southern hemisphere
Image 5/34, Image: c

Landing on the southern hemisphere

At this moment, the landing site, located at 315 degrees east and 30 degrees south, is still simply called 'MA-9'.

MASCOT's approach to Ryugu and its path across the surface
MASCOT's approach to Ryugu and its path across the surface
Image 6/34, Image: JAXA/U Tokyo/Kochi U/Rikkyo U/Nagoya U/ Chiba Inst Tech/Meiji U/U Aizu/AIST.

MASCOT's approach to Ryugu and its path across the surface

After MASCOT had separated from its mothercraft, Hayabusa2's ONC (Optical Navigation Camera) recording system, with its three cameras, began following MASCOT’s descent to the asteroid Ryugu from a height of 51 metres. The image section is oriented to the north, and the area shown is located at approximately 300 degrees east and 30 degrees south. Hayabusa2’s shadow can be seen on the lower right. At the time of the separation, it was about noon on Ryugu and the Sun was behind Hayabusa2 – the shadow is about six by 4.5 metres.

The points indicate the times at which Hayabusa2 acquired images of MASCOT. The times are in UTC (Coordinated Universal Time, CEST minus two hours), the first image was acquired at 01:59 and 40 seconds UTC (03:59:40 CEST). The yellow line indicates the locations at which MASCOT was still descending towards Ryugu and where it could be identified in the ONC photos. The blue line below the yellow line is the projection of these positions onto the asteroid surface – so this shows MASCOT's flight route was rather straight, and the lander touched down on a large edgy block at around 02:23 and 24 seconds UTC. From there, the asteroid lander hopped along the curved horizontal line towards the east-northeast and was then repeatedly imaged by the ONC. At around 02:14 and 04 minutes UTC MASCOT came to rest at its first location on the asteroid. Meanwhile, Hayabusa2 ascended to a higher observation position over Ryugu, making it more difficult to identify MASCOT in the images due to the lower image resolution. On the second asteroid day, MASCOT's mobility mechanism was activated. Another image will show the lander on 4 October at 00:55 and nine seconds UTC.

Shadow of MASCOT over asteroid Ryugu
Shadow of MASCOT over asteroid Ryugu during the descent
Image 7/34, Image: 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.

Landing sites for the Hayabusa2-Mission on the asteroid Ryugu
Landing sites for the Hayabusa2-Mission on the asteroid Ryugu
Image 8/34, Image: JAXA, University of Tokyo & collaborators

Landing sites for the Hayabusa2-Mission on the asteroid Ryugu

The lander MASCOT will land on Ryugu within the ellipse-shaped landing site MA-9 marked in blue. The Japanese Hayabusa2 space probe will approach the asteroid’s surface and take samples from the areas L07, L08 and M04. The MINERVA rovers were deployed at the landing site N6 marked in red.

Asteroid Ryugu
Asteroid Ryugu
Image 9/34, Image: JAXA, University of Tokyo, Kochi University, Rikkyo University, Nagoya University, Chiba Institute of Technology, Meiji University, University of Aizu and AIST.

Asteroid Ryugu

Asteroid Ryugu, photographed on 30 June 2018, from Hayabusa2’s home position, 20 kilometres from the surface, with the Japanese Optical Navigation Camera – Telescopic (ONC-T).

Close to the asteroid Ryugu
Close to the asteroid Ryugu
Image 10/34, Image: JAXA, University of Tokyo, Kochi University, Rikkyo University, Nagoya University, Chiba Institute of Technology, Meiji University, University of Aizu and AIST.University of Aizu, Kobe University, Auburn University, JAXA.

Close to the asteroid Ryugu

On 20 July 2018, the Optical Navigation Camera - Telescopic (ONC-T) of the Japanese Hayabusa2 probe acquired an image of the asteroid Ryugu from a distance of six kilometres. The numerous large boulders on the asteroid’s surface as well as the large crater in the middle of the picture are easily recognisable. One pixel is about 60 centimetres.

Close-up of the asteroid Ryugu
Close-up of the asteroid Ryugu
Image 11/34, Image: JAXA, Tokyo University, Kochi University, Rikkyo University, Nagoya University, Chiba Institute of Technology, Meiji University, Aizu University, AIST.

Close-up of the asteroid Ryugu

The image was acquired with the Optical Navigation Camera - Telescopic (ONC-T) of the Japanese Hayabusa2 probe.

3D model of the asteroid Ryugu
Ryugu – a ‘diamond’ in space
Image 12/34, Image: University of Aizu, Kobe University, Auburn University, JAXA

Ryugu – a ‘diamond’ in space

Based on the first images of Ryugu, taken by the Optical Navigation Camera – Telescopic (ONC-T) of the Japanese Hayabusa2 space probe, the Japanese space agency JAXA and researchers from the University of Aizu developed a 3D model of the asteroid. In October 2018, the lander MASCOT, developed and built by the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) in close cooperation with the French space agency CNES (Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales), will land on the asteroid. The celestial body will then be researched using four instruments.

Der Weg von Hayabusa2 von der Erde zum Asteroid Ryugu
Der Weg von Hayabusa2 von der Erde zum Asteroid Ryugu
Image 13/34, Image: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)

Der Weg von Hayabusa2 von der Erde zum Asteroid Ryugu

The Japanese Hayabusa2 spacecraft has made a 3200-million-kilometre journey with the German-French Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout (MASCOT) lander on board. The two spacecraft have been travelling through the Solar System since December 2014, culminating in an approach manoeuvre to the near-Earth asteroid that has lasted several weeks and was completed on 27 June 2018. 

Asteroid Ryugu imaged from a distance of approximately 40 kilometres
Asteroid Ryugu imaged from a distance of approximately 40 kilometres
Image 14/34, Image: JAXA, University of Tokyo & collaborators.

Asteroid Ryugu imaged from a distance of approximately 40 kilometres

Asteroid Ryugu imaged from a distance of 40 kilometres on 24 June 2018, during the approach of the Hayabusa2 spacecraft. The image was acquired by the ‘Optical Navigation Camera – Telescopic’ (ONC-T) on board Hayabusa2. The image shows a particularly large crater near the equator and the unusual angular shape of the asteroid. The ONC was developed and built under the leadership of JAXA in collaboration with the University of Tokyo, Kochi University, Rikkyo University, Nagoya University, Chiba Institute of Technology, Meiji University, Aizu University and the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) with contracted contributions from the company NEC.

Asteroid lander MASCOT
Asteroid lander MASCOT
Image 15/34, Image: DLR (CC-BY 3.0).

Asteroid lander MASCOT

A total of four instruments are installed within the 30 x 30 x 20-centimetre lander. A DLR radiometer and camera, together with a spectrometer from the Institut d'Astrophysique Spatiale and a magnetometer from the TU Braunschweig, are set to examine the mineralogical and geological composition of the asteroid’s surface and gauge its surface temperature as well as the asteroid’s magnetic field. A built-in swing arm gives MASCOT the required propulsion to make jumping manoeuvres over the surface.

Hayabusa2 approaching asteroid Ryugu
Hayabusa2 approaching asteroid Ryugu
Image 16/34, Image: DLR (CC-BY 3.0).

Hayabusa2 approaching asteroid Ryugu

The orbit of asteroid Ryugu lies mostly between the orbits of Earth and Mars.

Images of the asteroid Ryugu during the approach
Images of the asteroid Ryugu during the approach
Image 17/34, Image: JAXA, University of Tokyo & collaborators.

Images of the asteroid Ryugu during the approach

Images of the asteroid Ryugu acquired between 18 and 20 June 2018 by the Japanese Optical Navigation Camera – Telescopic (ONC-T) on board Hayabusa2, during the spacecraft’s approach. Among other things, a large rock with a diameter of approximately 150 metres can be seen protruding from the upper part of Ryugu. This is clearly visible because part of the surface is more reflective. This could indicate differences in the composition of the surface material. The ONC was developed and built under the leadership of JAXA in collaboration with the University of Tokyo, Kochi University, Rikkyo University, Nagoya University, Chiba Institute of Technology, Meiji University, Aizu University and the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) with contracted contributions from the company NEC.

Hayabusa2 spacecraft with ion engines
Hayabusa2 spacecraft with ion engines
Image 18/34, Image: DLR (CC-BY 3.0).

Hayabusa2 spacecraft with ion engines

The Japanese Hayabusa2 spacecraft with the German-French Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout (MASCOT) lander on board has completed its 3200-million-kilometre journey to asteroid Ryugu.

Asteroid Ryugu aus rund 22 Kilometern Entfernung fotografiert
Asteroid Ryugu aus rund 22 Kilometern Entfernung fotografiert
Image 19/34, Image: JAXA, University of Tokyo, Kochi University, Rikkyo University, Nagoya University, Chiba Institute of Technology, Meiji University, Aizu University, AIST.

Asteroid Ryugu aus rund 22 Kilometern Entfernung fotografiert

Am 26. Juni 2018 fotografierte die japanische KameraONC-T (Optical Navigation Camera - Telescopic) an Bord von Hayabusa2 den Asteroiden Ryugu noch vor der Ankunft aus 22 Kilometern Entfernung. Die ONC-Kamera wurde unter der Leitung von JAXA entwickelt und gebaut in Zusammenarbeit mit der Universität Tokyo, Kochi Universität, Rikkyo Universität, Nagoya Universität, Chiba Institute of Technology, Meiji Universität, Aizu Universität und AIST sowie beauftragten Beiträgen der Firma NEC.

Asteroid Ryugu imaged from a distance of approximately 22 kilometres
Asteroid Ryugu imaged from a distance of approximately 22 kilometres
Image 20/34, Image: JAXA, University of Tokyo, Kochi University, Rikkyo University, Nagoya University, Chiba Institute of Technology, Meiji University, Aizu University, AIST.

Asteroid Ryugu imaged from a distance of approximately 22 kilometres

On 26 June 2018, the Japanese Optical Navigation Camera – Telescopic (ONC-T) on board Hayabusa2 imaged the asteroid Ryugu from a distance of approximately 22 kilometres, shortly before it arrived. The ONC was developed and built under the leadership of JAXA in collaboration with the University of Tokyo, Kochi University, Rikkyo University, Nagoya University, Chiba Institute of Technology, Meiji University, Aizu University and the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) with contracted contributions from the company NEC.

Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout (MASCOT)
Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout (MASCOT)
Image 21/34, Image: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)

Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout (MASCOT)

MASCOT is a highly integrated asteroid lander developed by DLR in cooperation with CNES and JAXA.

MASCOT teamwork
MASCOT teamwork
Image 22/34, Image: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)

MASCOT teamwork

A team at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) developed, built and tested the MASCOT asteroid lander, which will travel to asteroid 1999 JU3 on board the Japanese Hayabusa 2 spacecraft.

Integration of MASCOT
Integration of MASCOT
Image 23/34, Image: DLR (CC-BY 3.0).

Integration of MASCOT

DLR researchers are developing MASCOT, the Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout asteroid lander. The lander will fly to asteroid 1999 JU 3 on board the Japanese Hayabusa-2 spacecraft.

MASCOT – preparations for flight
MASCOT – preparations for flight
Image 24/34, Image: DLR (CC-BY 3.0).

MASCOT – preparations for flight

The MASCOT asteroid lander, developed by the German Aerospace Center (DLR), is scheduled to launch in December 2014 on board the Japanese Hayabusa 2 spacecraft.

Giving MASCOT the finishing touches
Giving MASCOT the finishing touches
Image 25/34, Image: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)

Giving MASCOT the finishing touches

Engineers at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) assemble the MASCOT asteroid lander for the Japanese Hayabusa 2 spacecraft.

MASCOT asteroid lander in microgravity
MASCOT asteroid lander in microgravity
Image 26/34, Image: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)

MASCOT asteroid lander in microgravity

DLR researchers use parabolic flights to test the MASCOT asteroid lander's functions in microgravity. MASCOT is due to separate from the Japanese Hayabusa-2 spacecraft above asteroid 1999 JU 3 and fall to the surface.

Ready to go – Hayabusa 2 and MASCOT
Ready to go – Hayabusa 2 and MASCOT
Image 27/34, Image: JAXA

Ready to go – Hayabusa 2 and MASCOT

The German Aerospace Center (DLR) will journey to asteroid 1999 JU3 on board the Japanese Hayabusa 2 spacecraft. Originally scheduled for launch at 05:24 CET on 30 November 2014, the MASCOT (Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout) asteroid lander will now set off from Tanegashima Space Center on board the Japanese orbiter Hayabusa 2 no earlier than 1 December.

Names and best wishes for MASCOT
Names and best wishes for MASCOT
Image 28/34, Image: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)

Names and best wishes for MASCOT

3500 space fans sent their names and good wishes to the DLR MASCOT asteroid lander, destined for asteroid 1999 JU3. Two small foils with the names and messages are attached to MASCOT.

MASCOT launches from the Tanegashima Space Center
MASCOT launches from the Tanegashima Space Center
Image 29/34, Image: MHI Global

MASCOT launches from the Tanegashima Space Center

On 3 December 2014 at 05:22 CEST, an H IIA launch vehicle lifted off from the Tanegashima Space Center and the Japanese Hayabusa 2 spacecraft and its MASCOT lander, developed by DLR, began their journey to Asteroid 1999 JU3.

MASCOT's approach to Ryugu and its path across the surface
MASCOT's approach to Ryugu and its path across the surface
Image 30/34, Image: JAXA/U Tokyo/Kochi U/Rikkyo U/Nagoya U/ Chiba Inst Tech/Meiji U/U Aizu/AIST.

MASCOT's approach to Ryugu and its path across the surface

After MASCOT had separated from its mothercraft, Hayabusa2's ONC (Optical Navigation Camera) recording system, with its three cameras, began following MASCOT’s descent to the asteroid Ryugu from a height of 51 metres. The image section is oriented to the north, and the area shown is located at approximately 300 degrees east and 30 degrees south. Hayabusa2’s shadow can be seen on the lower right. At the time of the separation, it was about noon on Ryugu and the Sun was behind Hayabusa2 – the shadow is about six by 4.5 metres.

The points indicate the times at which Hayabusa2 acquired images of MASCOT. The times are in UTC (Coordinated Universal Time, CEST minus two hours), the first image was acquired at 01:59 and 40 seconds UTC (03:59:40 CEST). The yellow line indicates the locations at which MASCOT was still descending towards Ryugu and where it could be identified in the ONC photos. The blue line below the yellow line is the projection of these positions onto the asteroid surface – so this shows MASCOT's flight route was rather straight, and the lander touched down on a large edgy block at around 02:23 and 24 seconds UTC. From there, the asteroid lander hopped along the curved horizontal line towards the east-northeast and was then repeatedly imaged by the ONC. At around 02:14 and 04 minutes UTC MASCOT came to rest at its first location on the asteroid. Meanwhile, Hayabusa2 ascended to a higher observation position over Ryugu, making it more difficult to identify MASCOT in the images due to the lower image resolution. On the second asteroid day, MASCOT's mobility mechanism was activated. Another image will show the lander on 4 October at 00:55 and nine seconds UTC.

Artist's impression of MASCOT during landing
MASCOT descends onto the asteroid
Image 31/34, Image: DLR (CC-BY 3.0).

MASCOT descends onto the asteroid

Artist's impression of MASCOT during landing

MASCOT image pointing east while descending on Ryugu
MASCOT image pointing east while descending on Ryugu
Image 32/34, Image: JAXA/U Tokyo/Kochi U/Rikkyo U/Nagoya U/ Chiba Inst Tech/Meiji U/U Aizu/AIST (links); MASCOT/DLR/JAXA (rechts).

MASCOT image pointing east while descending on Ryugu

The second image of the DLR-developed MASCAM camera is directed obliquely downward on the asteroid Ryugu and covers areas east of the descent route. The area covered by MASCAM is marked as an open trapezoid in the overview image of the wide-angle camera of the ONC (Optical Navigation Camera) system of Hayabusa2. Compared with the first image, it is clear that MASCOT moved turbulently towards Ryugu, as expected, thus performing turns and rollovers.

Both images show a huge boulder, which occupies the eastern (right) edge of the image in the MASCAM image and is several tens of metres in length. On the bottom left is MASCOT's shadow, which the Sun behind the landing probe is projecting onto the asteroid surface: MASCOT is 30 centimetres long. Ryugu is a body with no atmosphere, so the outlines of MASCOT (right) and Hayabusa2 (left) are sharp in the shadows projected onto the asteroid surface.

Asteroid lander MASCOT on board the Hayabusa2 space probe
Asteroid lander MASCOT on board the Hayabusa2 space probe
Image 33/34, Image: DLR (CC-BY 3.0).

Asteroid lander MASCOT on board the Hayabusa2 space probe

The Japanese Hayabusa2 space probe has completed a 3200-million-kilometre long journey carrying the German-French lander MASCOT (Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout).

MASCOT's approach to Ryugu and its path across the surface
MASCOT's approach to Ryugu and its path across the surface
Image 34/34, Image: JAXA/U Tokyo/Kochi U/Rikkyo U/Nagoya U/ Chiba Inst Tech/Meiji U/U Aizu/AIST.

MASCOT's approach to Ryugu and its path across the surface

After MASCOT had separated from its mothercraft, Hayabusa2's ONC (Optical Navigation Camera) recording system, with its three cameras, began following MASCOT’s descent to the asteroid Ryugu from a height of 51 metres. The image section is oriented to the north, and the area shown is located at approximately 300 degrees east and 30 degrees south. Hayabusa2’s shadow can be seen on the lower right. At the time of the separation, it was about noon on Ryugu and the Sun was behind Hayabusa2 – the shadow is about six by 4.5 metres.

The points indicate the times at which Hayabusa2 acquired images of MASCOT. The times are in UTC (Coordinated Universal Time, CEST minus two hours), the first image was acquired at 01:59 and 40 seconds UTC (03:59:40 CEST). The yellow line indicates the locations at which MASCOT was still descending towards Ryugu and where it could be identified in the ONC photos. The blue line below the yellow line is the projection of these positions onto the asteroid surface – so this shows MASCOT's flight route was rather straight, and the lander touched down on a large edgy block at around 02:23 and 24 seconds UTC. From there, the asteroid lander hopped along the curved horizontal line towards the east-northeast and was then repeatedly imaged by the ONC. At around 02:14 and 04 minutes UTC MASCOT came to rest at its first location on the asteroid. Meanwhile, Hayabusa2 ascended to a higher observation position over Ryugu, making it more difficult to identify MASCOT in the images due to the lower image resolution. On the second asteroid day, MASCOT's mobility mechanism was activated. Another image will show the lander on 4 October at 00:55 and nine seconds UTC.

The aim of the Hayabusa2 mission is to learn more about the origin and evolution of the Solar System. As asteroids account for some of the most primordial celestial bodies, researching them gives us a glimpse into our cosmic past.

Media items
  • Mobile asteroid surface scout (MASCOT)

    Mobile asteroid surface scout (MASCOT)

    MASCOT is a highly-integrated asteroid lander whose development was co-ordinated by DLR scientists collaborating with the French space agency CNES and the Japanese space authority JAXA.
  • Asteroid lander MASCOT on board the Hayabusa2 space probe

    Asteroid lander MASCOT on board the Hayabusa2 space probe

    Image: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)  |  Download
    The Japanese Hayabusa2 space probe has completed a 3200-million-kilometre long journey carrying the German-French lander MASCOT (Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout).
Articles in which this media item appears
Also appears in these dossiers
More galleries

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