As Hayabusa 2 nears Ryugu 2, it is going to be interest for spectators around the world who are interesting in getting up close and personal to this celestial rock. Shaped like an octahedron, it poses some serious sophistication on the design side!
This image illustrates the flight path of Ryugu as it near the Earth. The heavier Blue Line shows its approximation.
Asteroid Ryugu, seen at a distance of 40km on 24 June 2018. Image: JAXA, University of Tokyo, Kochi University, Rikkyo University, Nagoya University, Chiba Institute of Technology, Meiji University, Aizu University, AIST
Remember the Rosetta spacecraft’s first photos of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko and how it looked like a rubber ducky? We’re now going through a similar phase with Japan’s Hayabusa 2 spacecraft as it gets progressively closer to the Ryugu asteroid, and we’re starting to get the first glimmerings of what this remote object, located 280 million km from Earth, actually looks like.
This new photo of Ryugu, taken by the spacecraft’s ONC-W1 (Optical Navigation Camera – Wide angle) on June 24, reveals an object that appears to have roughly the shape of an eight-sided die – a game piece that players of Dungeons and Dragons are very familiar with. Hayabusa 2 project manager Yuichi Tsuda said it looks like a piece of fluorite, or even an abacus bead.
Even more stunning is the archive of images from the Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko taken by ESA during their Rosetta mission. On the image archive, you can see water ice, organic compounds, and even brilliantly shining previous metals, as well as traces of inhabitants, and dark caves and bore holes that would be perfect for hiding alien life.
You can view the archives here.
Some of these images yield interesting results, including the change in position of boulders, and other mysterious things.
These comets are just so fascinating!
We welcome Ryugu to our celestial zone, and bid farewell to 67P as it continues on its journey.
We will miss you 67P!