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 was 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 and the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency JAXA. On 3 October 2018 at 03:58 (CEST) MASCOT separated from the Japanese Hayabusa2 spacecraft, and landed and made contact wit Ryugu approximately 20 minutes later. MASCOT was operational for over 17 hours, during which it collected data from the asteroid's surface.
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.
Follow the MASCOT lander on Twitter
Here you will find a series of DLR videos about the Hayabusa2/MASCOT mission to the asteroid Ryugu.
Blog about MASCOT on board Hayabusa2.
Flickr gallery - MASCOT/Hayabusa2 animation stills
Ryugu and other asteroids of the common ‘C-class’ consist of more porous material than was previously thought. Small fragments of their material are therefore too fragile to survive entry into the atmosphere in the event of a collision with Earth. This has revealed the long-suspected cause of the deficit of this meteorite type in finds on Earth.
Six minutes of free fall, a gentle impact on the asteroid and then 11 minutes of rebounding until coming to rest. That is how, in the early hours of 3 October 2018, the journey of the MASCOT asteroid lander began on Asteroid Ryugu – a land full of wonder, mystery and challenges.
It was a day full of exciting moments and a happy team of scientists and engineers: late in the afternoon of 3 October 2018, the German-French lander MASCOT completed its historic exploration of the surface of the asteroid Ryugu at 21:04 CEST, as its battery ran out. On-asteroid operations were originally scheduled to last 16 hours after separation from the Japanese mothercraft Hayabusa2.