The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) performed an Earth swing-by operation of the Asteroid Explorer “Hayabusa2” successfully on December 3, 2015 (Japan Standard Time).
Hayabusa2 is part of the ISECG Global Exploration Roadmap and contributes to extending human reach to unknown frontiers and to gaining new knowledge of possible robotic and human destinations. The probe is targeting a C-type asteroid, “Ryugu” to study the origin and evolution of the solar system as well as materials for life by leveraging the experience acquired from the first Hayabusa mission. After the launch in December 2014, Hayabusa2 flew once around the sun for one year, in a similar orbit to the Earth’s, then it came back near Earth to perform a swing-by. JAXA has confirmed the probe is sailing on its target orbit after analysing the post-Earth-swing-by orbit.
Hayabusa2 will rendezvous at the asteroid “Ryugu” in mid-2018, hover around there for one and half years and return to Earth around the end of 2020. The probe is carrying new equipment such as the Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout (MASCOT) and the Small Carry-on Impactor (SCI). The 10 kilogram MASCOT lander, developed by DLR in cooperation with CNES, will perform in-situ investigation of the asteroid surface enabling intense scientific research. SCI creates an artificial crater on the asteroid, and retrieves samples from sub-surface.
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