MASCOT (mobile asteroid surface scout) is an asteroid lander that was developed as the DLR contribution to JAXA's Hayabusa-II mission.
A special mechatronic mechanism, allows the lander to upright to nominal position and to relocate on asteroid surface by hopping. The target asteroid 1999JU3 (Ryugu) offers only very little gravity. By accelerating and decelerating an eccentric arm with a brushless DC motor, jerk is applied to the overall 10 kg system and MASCOT is able to hop on asteroid surface. On 3rd December 2014 at 05:22 CEST, a JAXA H IIA launch vehicle lifted off from the Tanegashima Space Center and the Hayabusa-II spacecraft together with its MASCOT lander began their journey through space. In several health checks the unit showed nominal behavior. In summer of 2018, Hayabusa-II will reach the target asteroid, where MASCOT will descend to its surface.
More information on the project can be found at the project page.
Depiction of Hayabusa2 and MASCOT in mission scenario at asteroid
DLR (CC-BY 3.0).
CAD drawing of the MASCOT system (left) and its electronics box (right) with the mobility motor mounted on.
Next to the motor there is the Harmonic Drive gearing consisting of circular spline (bright green), flex spline (green) and wave generator (dark blue). The eccentric arm (violet) is supported by an extra bearing (bright blue) and attached to the shaft by a screw (red) that also serves as a MLI foil standoff.
Flight model of the motor and eccentric arm (mobility unit MobUnit)
Photo image of MASCOT flight model before integration in the Hayabusa2 mother spacecraft
Logo of the MASCOT mission
J. Reill et al., "Development of a mobility drive unit for low gravity planetary body exploration", 12th Symposium on Advanced Space Technologies in Robotics and Automation (ASTRA), (ESA/ESTEC, Noordwijk, Netherlands), May 2013, http://elib.dlr.de/86421/.
J. Reill et al., "MASCOT – asteroid lander with innovative mobility mechanism", 13th Symposium on Advanced Space Technologies in Robotics and Automation (ASTRA), (ESA/ESTEC, Noordwijk, Netherlands), May 2015, http://elib.dlr.de/96381/.
T.-M. Ho et al., "MASCOT – the mobile asteroid surface scout onboard the HAYABUSA2 mission", Space Science Reviews, vol. 208, pp. 339-374, July 2017, http://elib.dlr.de/107136/.