Japanese spacecraft Hayabusa2 has done a meticulous choreography second touched on an asteroid called Ryugu last night (July 10) – and the photos are amazing.
The images returned to Earth show the perspective of two different cameras on board the probe: the main navigation camera and a publicly funded camera pointing beyond the sampling mechanism.
The photos of the first camera show views of The surface of Ryugu touch; the second shows the neighboring rock before and after the sampling itself.
Related: Pow! Asteroid Ryugu of the Japanese Hayabusa2 launches a crater (Photo)
Mission staff spent hours cautiously lowering the Hayabusa2 Space Shuttle before locating the white and bright target marker they had dropped in anticipation of the maneuver. The scientists held their breath and waited for the touched himself played.
This process is dramatic: the probe lands on Ryugu's surface, then fires a tantalum bullet (so scientists analyzing the sample can ignore the metal, which is not on the asteroid) in the rocky surface. Part of the debris thrown to the surface by the bullet ends in the Hayabusa2 integrated sampling horn, and the spacecraft lifts off the surface.
The JAXA confirmed that the touchdown had gone smoothly and that the bullet had been fired, suggesting that she had managed to take a sample of material buried under Ryugu's surface until April, when the probe deployed a copper bomb to create a artificial crater.
Subsurface materials are particularly intriguing for scientists seeking to get their hands on asteroid samples as they have been protected from the harmful effects of cosmic rays and charged particles from the solar wind blowing into space.
Hayabusa2 will leave Ryugu at the end of this year and spend about a year traveling back to Earth with his cargo.