MASCOT Lander
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The MASCOT lander

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  • Asteroidenlande MASCOT an Bord der japanischen Raumsonde Hayabusa2
    MASCOT asteroid lander on board the Japanese Hayabusa2 spacecraft

    MASCOT (Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout) is a mobile box-shaped landing device measuring 30 x 30 x 20 centimetres and weighing approximately 10 kilograms. It accommodates four scientific instruments designed to study the surface of the asteroid Ryugu in detail.

  • Asteroidenlander MASCOT (Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout)
    Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout (MASCOT)

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

  • Mobilitätsmechanismus zur Fortbewegunga auf der Asteroidenoberfläche
    Hopping on an asteroid with the help of a spring mechanism

    MASCOT can change position with the help of the swing arm ensuring that it is in the correct position.

  • Die MASCOT%2dKamera (MASCAM)
    MASCOT camera MASCAM

    The MASCAM camera, developed by the DLR Institute of Planetary Research, will start capturing images during the descent to Ryugu. After landing, it will photograph the surrounding area from the landing site to the horizon in high resolution, and will carry out geological and physical measurements of the surrounding environment and the subsoil from the asteroid’s surface.

  • Das Radiometer MARA
    The MARA radiometer

    The MARA radiometer of the DLR Institute of Planetary Research serves to determine the surface temperature as well as the thermal properties of the regolith.

  • Das Magnetometer MAG
    The MAG magnetometer

    The MAG magnetometer, developed by the Institute for Geophysics and Extraterrestrial Physics at the Technical University of Braunschweig, will determine the asteroid’s magnetic field.

  • Das Infrarot%2dSpektralmikroskop MicrOmega
    The MicrOmega infrared spectrometer

    The MicrOmega infrared spectrometer, a device from the Institut d‘Astrophysique Spatiale (Paris), will investigate the mineralogical composition of the regolith.

MASCOT (Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout) is a mobile box-shaped landing device measuring 30 x 30 x 20 centimetres and weighing approximately 10 kilograms. It accommodates four scientific instruments designed to study the surface of the asteroid Ryugu in detail.

The structure itself, weighing just 450 grams, is extremely light but very robust. This is made possible by the use of layers of carbon fibre reinforced plastics that are just 0.125 millimetres thick, and which are combined with a foam core or laminate to form a framework structure appropriate to the material.

MASCOT also includes a mechanism that enables movement on the asteroid surface. This encompasses a swing-arm, made out of tungsten, which is accelerated and decelerated by a motor, causing the whole system to swing, so that MASCOT can move by 'jumping' and thus manoeuvre itself into the position required to conduct the experiments. MASCOT's battery has a capacity of 200 Watt-hours, sufficient for 16 hours of operating time. However, the actual operating time depends on the temperature and actual power consumption on site. During this time, Ryugu will go through about two full asteroid day-and-night cycles.

Landing and ‘hopping’ on an asteroid

Since the asteroid‘s gravity is not strong enough to ‘pull’ MASCOT out of the Hayabusa2 probe, it is pushed out of its holding device by means of a spring mechanism behind a push-off plate. MASCOT then free-falls from a height of approximately 60 metres, at the falling speed of a sheet of paper, touching down on Ryugu after approximately 15 minutes. However, due to the low gravitational pull on the asteroid – Earth has about 60,000 times the amount – MASCOT will bounce at least once or several times over the surface. The final landing site and orientation are therefore uncertain. In order to carry out the experiments, an ‘upright’ position is required: In order for MASCOT to be able to work, the on-board computer is informed of the orientation data by means of position sensors. The swing arm is then activated, making MASCOT change position if necessary, ensuring that it is in the correct position. Due to long signal propagation times to Earth, intervention from the ground station is not possible, meaning that all actions are autonomously carried out by MASCOT.

MASCOT's scientific payload

The MASCAM camera, developed by the DLR Institute of Planetary Research, will start capturing images during the descent to Ryugu. After landing, it will photograph the surrounding area from the landing site to the horizon in high resolution, and will carry out geological and physical measurements of the surrounding environment and the subsoil from the asteroid’s surface. The MARA radiometer of the DLR Institute of Planetary Research serves to determine the surface temperature as well as the thermal properties of the regolith. The MicrOmega infrared spectrometer, a device from the Institut d‘Astrophysique Spatiale (Paris), will investigate the mineralogical composition of the regolith. The MAG magnetometer, developed by the Institute for Geophysics and Extraterrestrial Physics at the Technical University of Braunschweig, will determine the asteroid’s magnetic field.

Once the first measurements have been conducted, MASCOT – again driven by the flywheel – will change location and repeat the experiments there. A third landing site is also planned for taking measurements. The data from MASCOT will be transmitted to Hayabusa2. The probe will be located in an observer position three kilometres above the asteroid. From there, all of MASCOT’s measurements and operating data will be transmitted to Earth.

The activities carried out from the beginning to the end of the MASCOT operating period will be forwarded from the JAXA Control Centre in Sagamihara directly to the DLR Microgravity User Support Center (MUSC) in Cologne. Initial results from the experiments will also provide pointers for the Japanese mission management and MUSC for the selection of landing sites for future sample taking.

DLR institutes involved in the MASCOT lander

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. The 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.

Last modified:
19/09/2018 14:17:05

Contacts

 

Dr Tra-Mi Ho
German Aerospace Center (DLR)

DLR Institute of Space Systems

Tel.: +49 421 24420-1171
Elke Heinemann
German Aerospace Center (DLR)

Public Affairs and Communications

Tel.: +49 2203 601-2867

Fax: +49 2203 601-3249
Prof.Dr. Ralf Jaumann
German Aerospace Center (DLR)

Institute of Planetary Research, Planetary Geology

Tel.: +49 30 67055-400

Fax: +49 30 67055-402
Ulrich Köhler
Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR) - German Aerospace Center

Tel.: +49 30 67055-215

Fax: +49 30 67055-402