Monday, December 14, 2015

Hayabusa 2 Update: On-Track for Ryugu...

An image of Earth that the Hayabusa 2 spacecraft took on December 4, 2015 (Japan Standard Time) as it flew away from our home planet following a gravity assist maneuver the day before.

Hayabusa 2 Earth Swing-by Result (Press Release)

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) confirmed that the Asteroid Explorer Hayabusa 2 is cruising on its target orbit after measuring and calculating the post-Earth-swing-by orbit.

The Hayabusa 2 performed the Earth swing-by on the night of December 3 (Thursday), 2015 (Japan Standard Time). The Hayabusa 2 flew closest to the Earth at 7:08 p.m. (JST) and passed over the Pacific Ocean near the Hawaiian islands at an altitude of about 3,090 km (1,920 miles). With the swing-by, the explorer’s orbit turned by about 80 degrees and its speed increased by about 1.6 km per second (1 mile per second) to about 31.9 km per second (20 miles per second against the Sun) thus the orbit achieved the target numbers.

According to the operation supported by the NASA Deep Space Network stations and European Space Agency deep space ground station, the Hayabusa 2 is in good health.

Message from Project Manager Yuichi Tsuda

I would like to express my deep gratitude to all pertinent parties and people and those who are supporting our operation. All the Hayabusa 2 project team members have been working together and will continue our challenging voyage. The Hayabusa 2 gained orbit energy through the swing-by to leave the Earth. The target is the asteroid “Ryugu”. “See you later, people on Earth!”

At 12:00 a.m. on Dec. 14, 2015, the Hayabusa 2 is flying at: about 4.15 million km (2.6 million miles) from the Earth, and about 144.85 million km (90 million miles) from the Sun.

Its cruising speed is 32.31 km per second (20 miles per second against the Sun).

The Hayabusa 2 is increasing its speed under the influence of the Sun’s gravity after the swing-by.

After the swing-by, the Hayabusa 2 took images of the Earth using its onboard Optical Navigation Camera - Telescopic (ONC-T). The ONC-T can shoot color images using seven filters.

The image above is composed by using three of these filters. You can see the Australian continent and Antarctica in the image. The South Pole is not lit by the sun during the summer, and meteorological satellites also do not cover the Antarctic area to take its images, hence the shot this time is precious.

Source: Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency

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