One of the coolest things about a mission to a new world is that as the spacecraft approaches, you get to see the world gradually take shape before your eyes. Japan's Hayabusa2 spacecraft is now less than 200 kilometers from Ryugu, the small, near-Earth asteroid from which it will collect a sample for return to Earth in 2020. Until now, we've only known Ryugu as a point of light, but behold!—It's starting to become a lumpy asteroid in Hayabusa2's navigation cameras:
JAXA, University of Tokyo, Kochi University, Rikkyo University, Nagoya University, Chiba Institute of Technology, Meiji University, University of Aizu and AIST
A day on Ryugu
This animation was created from 52 images captured by Hayabusa2's ONC-T (Optical Navigation Camera - Telescopic) on June 14 and June 15. The asteroid makes a complete rotation every 7 hours, 38 minutes.
Just for reference, here's what shape models of Ryugu were predicting back in 2017:
T. Müller et al. A&A 599, A103, 2017
Estimation of the shape of Ryugu
And finally, here's a recap of what we've seen so far during the approach:
Phil Stooke / JAXA, University of Tokyo, Kochi University, Rikkyo University, Nagoya University, Chiba Institute of Technology, Meiji University, University of Aizu and AIST
This sequence of images shows Ryugu increasing in size and resolution as Hayabusa2 approaches.