Jason DavisMar 05, 2019

Watch Hayabusa2's incredible touchdown on asteroid Ryugu

Japan’s space agency JAXA held a press conference today updating the world on how touchdown and sample collection went a couple weeks ago at asteroid Ryugu. I was planning to hold off on posting an update until I had time to carefully digest the briefing materials, but this is too cool not to immediately share: Behold, the Hayabusa2 touchdown video!

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Hayabusa2 touchdown video This video of Hayabusa2's 21 February 2019 touchdown on asteroid Ryugu was created using frames from the spacecraft's small monitor camera (CAM-H). The video starts 59 seconds before final descent and the playback speed is 5x real time, covering 5 minutes and 40 seconds total.Video: JAXA

The video was shot with Hayabusa2’s small monitoring camera, CAM-H, which points downward from the side of the main spacecraft bus. Incredibly, the camera was funded by donations from the public!

There’s so much to like about the video: The reflection of Ryugu on Hayabusa2’s shiny surface. The white target marker containing names of Planetary Society members, visible in the lower-left corner for the first part of the video. And, of course, the incredible spray of debris when Hayabusa2 hits the surface and fires its tantalum bullet.

With so much material flying around, the team says "the potential for sample collection is high." That hopefully includes some larger pieces that either floated directly into the sample catcher or were caught on the inner lip of the sample horn, giving them a chance to tumble up into the catcher later. JAXA also confirmed some debris stuck to the lens of one of the optical navigation cameras.

More to come from the briefing later; in the meantime, here’s a GIF of the touchdown, suitable for sharing on social media!

Hayabusa2 moment of touchdown
Hayabusa2 moment of touchdown This animation, extracted from a longer video, shows the moment of Hayabusa2's 21 February 2019 touchdown on asteroid Ryugu.Image: JAXA

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