Hayabusa2 nearly ready for launch: Photos from Tanegashima, and new artist's renderings
On October 27, JAXA provided media with an opportunity to view the Hayabusa2 spacecraft at the Tanegashima space center, where it's making final preparations for launch. The spacecraft had been fueled with xenon, but not yet with more hazardous chemical fuel and oxidizer. Once fueled, it will be mounted atop the H-IIA rocket, ready for launch on November 30 at 13:24:48 Japan time (04:24 UT or November 29 at 20:24 PST). Koumei Shibata was there, and took several photos:
Here is the business end, the sampler horn. Shibata pointed out that a cover was still on the sampler horn the last time he had seen the spacecraft, at Sagamihara (pictured at right); that cover has been removed.
JAXA had obligingly positioned a mirror to allow photographers to see underneath the spacecraft, including the impactor (round thing at center) and the small target markers, which Hayabusa2 will release to guide its descent to the asteroid's surface (little spheres covered with squares surrounding the impactor):
It might be fun to compare the view of the spacecraft when it was at Tanegashima with this lengthy video just posted by JAXA of the spacecraft when it was presented to media at Sagamihara, where Hayabusa2 was assembled.
In other Hayabusa2-related news, this week computer graphics artist Go Miyazaki shared a pile of really lovely new artist impressions of Hayabusa2 in space. I've added several of them to our image library, but there are even more on his Flickr page. Check out his great work below. Please note: only the top one may be reused for commercial purposes without asking Miyazaki's permission; the others are shared under attribution/noncommercial licenses.