Yacht The spacecraft Hayabusa2 touches an asteroid called Ryugu to take a sample – and you can watch the action live
. ), who manages the spacecraft starting today (Feb. 21) at 4:45 am EST (2145 GMT). You can watch live on Space.com via JAXA or YouTube YouTube .
JAXA started downhill on Ryugu on February 21. 6:30 AM local time at JAXA headquarters (February 20 at about 16:30 EST, 2130 GMT), with the decision to approach the asteroid after about 6 hours. Before starting descent, Khayabusa2 stayed in its "home position", approximately 12.4 miles (20 kilometers) above the surface of the asteroid. In the next few hours, the spacecraft approached closer, sending an image from its navigation camera about twice a hour. These images take about 1
@ haya2e_jaxa has a real-time image of the #Ryugu asteroid approach. Check it out here: https://t.co/pUTbBceeK3 I Made the Thing: pic.twitter.com/0Ohg78zSFZ February 21, 2019
During the first few hours of descent, the spacecraft dipped at a speed about 35 inches / second (90 centimeters per second), which is about twice as fast as originally planned by JAXA, to offset the start of the descent about 5 hours later than planned. On February 21, around 9:15 AM EST (1415 GMT), Hayabusa was only 1.8 miles (3 km) above the surface.
Hayabusa2 is scheduled to touch around 6:06 pm. EST (2306 GMT). On the surface he will remove what is essentially a ball in the pinch surface of Ryu and absorb the resulting fragments in order to bring them back to Earth.
After completing the sampling, the spacecraft will take about 11 hours to return to its "home position". The spacecraft still has more work in Ryugu, including the release of another small rover on the surface of the asteroid before going home late this year.