Japanese rover lands on ancient asteroid for 16 hour-mission

From Nature, 4 October 2018:

A third rover has touched down on the surface of asteroid Ryugu, marking a hat-trick of successful landings for the Japanese Hayabusa2 space mission.

Earlier today, the shoe-box-sized Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout (MASCOT) separated from the Hayabusa2 probe, which had moved temporarily to 51 metres from the asteroid’s surface. The lander then descended to the asteroid in free fall, travelling at around 30 centimetres per second.

The mission is now racing against time. MASCOT’s battery will only last about 16 hours, says Makoto Yoshikawa, the Hayabusa2 mission manager from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. “We can communicate with MASCOT for maybe ten more hours, so now is a very important time,” he says. Read more.

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