Japan's spaceship exploring asteroid has done its last job before it went home – and it also made a skilful image.
The Hayabusa2 Mission has been investigating a space rock called Ryugu for more than a year. During this time, the spacecraft collected samples of the rock created an artificial crater and released three small robots for exploration of Ryugu's surface. But Hayabusa2 still has a rover on board called MINERVA-II2.
And before the main spacecraft uses this rover, the team monitoring the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) mission wanted to put the vehicle through its paces again. This rehearsal, which took place on September 1
Related: Incredible asteroid land photos of Hayabusa2
Each target marker is a reflective sphere with a diameter of about 10 centimeters and smaller spheres – like a high-tech beanbag. Hayabusa2 started with five of these markers and had already used two, one last October and one in May. According to JAXA, two more left the spacecraft during the rehearsal this week.
During the procedure, the spacecraft photographed the target markers every 4 seconds producing the raw material that had turned the mission personnel into anesthetic -be multiple exposure images.
When the camera clicked into place, the target itself remained more or less in the same place, while the spacecraft itself increased at a speed of about 4 inches per second, JAXA said. Overall, it took a few days for the target markers to reach the surface of the asteroid, as the space rock had very low gravity.
sixteenth September, 15:52 JST: The height of the spacecraft is 3.5 km. The first picture was taken by the ONC-T at 15:13 JST. The Urashima Crater fills the entire photo, the width of which is about 390 m. The second picture was taken with the wide-angle camera ONC-W1 at 15:43 JST. pic.twitter.com/pf0ZYf4EKh[19459010<September162019
The rehearsal was originally scheduled for September 5, but JAXA postponed the maneuver after Hayabusa2 briefly entered safe mode at the end of August. The safe mode was triggered by an anomaly when testing a long unused reaction wheel. Although the problem for spacecraft engineers was easy to circumvent, Hayabusa2 sent it to its "starting position" 20 kilometers above the surface of the asteroid.
Hayabusa2 has focused on watching the pair since using the two targets This will remain so until the 23rd of September, according to JAXA. The agency has not yet announced when it will deploy the last rover of the spacecraft .
This mission marks the final task Hayabusa2 must complete before returning her precious Space Rock Cargo to Earth. The spaceship will leave Ryugu in November or December.