Lander captures views of asteroid’s rugged terrain

Ryugu's surface
The MASCOT lander’s view of asteroid Ryugu’s lumpy, bumpy surface was displayed during a post-mission news conference. Click on the image for more from German science writer Daniel Fischer’s Skyweek 2.0 website. (DLR Photo / Processed by Daniel Fischer)

Japan’s Hayabusa 2 probe and the German-French MASCOT lander have teamed up to send back amazing views of an asteroid that’s more than 180 million miles from Earth, including a snapshot of the lander falling toward the asteroid and an on-the-ground view of its rocky terrain.

Scientists shared the images today at the International Astronautical Congress in Germany, during a recap of MASCOT’s successful 17-hour survey of the asteroid Ryugu. Hayabusa 2, which has been hovering above the half-mile-wide asteroid for weeks, dropped the foot-wide, boxy lander onto the surface on Oct. 3.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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