The magazine MAQ September 2018 MAQ Magazine November 2018 - Page 268

16 October 2018

Schedule change for the touchdown operation

On the basis of the recent observations and operations in the vicinity of asteroid Ryugu by the Hayabusa2 spacecraft, the project team have decided to postpone the touchdown (TD) from the end of October this year (2018) to after January next year.

This decision to postpone touchdown is based on two main reasons. The first involves the improved understanding of the surface conditions on Ryugu by the operations conducted so far, and the second is the increased knowledge of the precision of the navigation guidance of the spacecraft.

Landing difficulties

In the area where the spacecraft will touchdown, it is dangerous to have boulders with a height greater than about 50cm. Since the length of the sampler horn is about 1m and the spacecraft will be to be slightly inclined during the touchdown, there is a possibility that if a boulder with a height above about 50cm is present, it will strike the main body of the spacecraft or the solar panels. Viewed from the position in Figure 2, there is no boulder larger than 50cm in the area L08-B. L08-B is the widest part within all the candidate sites without a boulder larger than 50cm.

(Images credit ※: JAXA, University of Tokyo, Kochi University, Rikkyo University, Nagoya University, Chiba Institute of Technology, Meiji University, University of Aizu, AIST)