On 3 December 2014, the Japanese space probe Hayabusa2 embarked on a sample return mission to asteroid (162173) Ryugu (formerly designated 1999 JU3). On board is the Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout (MASCOT), a lander built by the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft-und Raumfahrt; DLR) in collaboration with the French space agency CNES. 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. Furthermore, Ryugu is a near-Earth asteroid, which means it could pose a threat to Earth and must be investigated in order to reduce this threat.
MASCOT Lander auf Twitter
Blog about MASCOT on board Hayabusa2.
Flickr gallery - MASCOT/Hayabusa2 animation stills
Not too hot and not too cold. Not too many boulders, nor too few. Easily accessible and scientifically exciting. Meeting the requirements that the Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout (MASCOT) team had for the landing site on the asteroid Ryugu was no easy task. "However, we have now decided on an almost perfect landing site," says Ralf Jaumann from the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) Institute of Planetary Research, who is Principal Investigator of the MASCOT landing probe and responsible for the lander's MasCam camera experiment.
In early October 2018, the Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout (MASCOT) lander is expected to be in operation for approximately 16 hours on the Ryugu asteroid. The selection of the landing site will take place this August. The ideal site must firstly offer the MASCOT team engineers excellent conditions for a safe landing and stable operation on the asteroid, while providing the researchers with a wealth of new and productive measurements.
Scientists and engineers have been waiting nearly four years for the Japanese Hayabusa2 spacecraft – which is carrying the Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout (MASCOT) lander that was developed and constructed by the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) – to reach its destination: the asteroid Ryugu.