Touch down! European-made lander reaches Ryugu asteroid

Touch down! European-made lander reaches Ryugu asteroid
By Pascale Davies
Share this articleComments
Share this articleClose Button

A lander called Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout (MASCOT), deployed from its mothership, Japan's Hayabusa2 spacecraft, has landed on the asteroid Rzugu.


A shoebox-sized lander called the Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout (MASCOT) has landed on the Ryugu asteroid.

It was released from the unmanned Japanese spacecraft, Hayabusa2, on Wednesday. The Japanese space agency JAXA confirmed the lander had touched down on the asteroid, which is 323 million kilometres from earth.

Project manager Tra-Mi Ho, from the DLR Institute of Space Systems in Bremen, Germany, said: "It could not have gone better".

"From the lander's telemetry, we were able to see that it separated from the mothercraft and made contact with the asteroid surface approximately 20 minutes later," he added.

Scientists hope the lander will help reveal the mysteries of the solar system's beginnings by examining the minerals of the asteroid's surface.

But the probe will not be alone, as it joins the two rovers MINERVA-II1A and MINERVA-II1B on the asteroid. Like its companions, MASCOT moves by hopping, which it does through the use of a "swing arm".


It also has a wide-angle camera to capture its surroundings. It has already taken 20 photos of its descent to the asteroid.

MASCOT is in a rush to gather as much data as possible, as its battery is expected to die 16 hours after touchdown.

It also has spectroscopic microscope to examine minerals on the surface of the asteroid.

The 10kg box was built by the German (DLR) and French (CNES) space agencies.

Share this articleComments

You might also like

European lander prepares to reach Ryugu asteroid

SpaceX astronauts safely return to earth after International Space Station mission

Latest SpaceX crew successfully docked at International Space Station