Hayabusa 2 Sends Back Highest Resolution Images Of Ryugu Yet

Japan has been operating a mission on the surface of an asteroid for a while now. The Hayabusa2 spacecraft has been snapping images and its rovers have been cruising the surface of the asteroid snapping pics. Recently JAXA, the Japanese space agency, shared the highest resolution images of Ryugu to date.

The image, seen above, was taken with the ONC-T (Optical Navigation Camera- Telescopic) as Hayabusa2 descended towards the surface of the asteroid to deploy its MINERVA-II1 rover. The image was captured from an altitude of 64m and was snapped on September 21, 2018 at about 13:04 JST.

The image with the yellow circle and red arrow is pointing out the region of the asteroid where the image was taken. The area of the asteroid where the images are being taken is known as the "Muses Sea" and the official name is MUSES-C Regio. This area is covered in gravel that measures diameter from a few mm to a few cm.

On September 21 the MINERVA-II1 rovers were deployed on the surface of Ryugu to explore the asteroid. Early images were rather blurry and not that great, those images are in the photo showing three different shots with the last being in horizontal mode. One of the images is very clear and shows lots of rocks and gravel strewn about the surface of the asteroid.

Some of the images taken by the rovers show large boulders and rocky outcrops on the asteroid. Rover-1A snapped an image with the sun at its back that showed its own shadow including antenna and pin sticking up. The pin is important and increases friction when the rover moves with its hopping motion, protects solar cells when landing, and some pins have temperature sensors to allow measurement of surface temperature directly. The new rover images are much better than the previous shots. Images here are via JAXA, University of Tokyo and collaborators.