Hayabusa 2 probe closes in on an asteroid

Hayabusa 2 views of Ryugu

A series of pictures from Japan’s Hayabusa 2 probe shows views of the asteroid Ryugu during the spacecraft’s approach. The closest views were captured from a distance of about 100 kilometers (62 miles), and reveal craters and boulders on the asteroid’s turning surface. (JAXA Photos)

Look! Up in the sky! It’s a dumpling … It’s a “Star Trek” Borg cube … It’s the asteroid Ryugu!

Our view of Ryugu, a half-mile-wide space rock nearly 180 million miles from Earth, is coming into sharper focus with the approach of the Japanese probe Hayabusa 2.

Three and a half years after its launch, the spacecraft is now within 35 miles of the asteroid, closing in on what’s expected to be a standoff orbital distance of 12 miles. The pictures that it’s been sending back throughout the approach provide enough detail to reveal Ryugu’s blocky shape.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

About Alan Boyle

Award-winning science writer, creator of Cosmic Log, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.
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