February 28, 2019

Hayabusa2/Mascot

The Hayabusa2 spacecraft is on a mission to analyse the composition of asteroid 1999 JU3 (Ryugu) and return samples from it to Earth. Developed by the German space agency DLR and CNES, the mission’s MASCOT lander was released onto the asteroid’s surface.

On 2 December 2014, Japan’s Hayabusa2 spacecraft departed Earth carrying MASCOT (Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout), a lander developed by the German space agency DLR in partnership with CNES. Its mission is to collect samples from 1999 JU3 (Ryugu), an Earth-crossing asteroid some 920 metres across. Hayabusa2 reached its destination in 2018, then in October 2018 it released the MASCOT lander onto the asteroid’s surface. Using its four instruments, among them the MicrOmega infrared microscope developed by the IAS space astrophysics institute in Orsay with CNES oversight, MASCOT analysed the asteroid’s soil at two different sites. Hayabusa2 collected samples of the soil and will return them to Earth towards the end of 2020.

DLR was responsible for developing the MASCOT lander and ground segment, and is in charge of planning and conducting lander operations. CNES supplied the MicrOmega instrument, antennas and electrical power system. Hayabusa2 was launched by JAXA, the Japanese space agency.