Space

Hayabusa 2 captures photo of asteroid blast zone a minute after touchdown

An image captured by the Hayabusa 2 spacecraft shows discoloring on the surface of Ryugu after touchdown
An image captured by the Hayabusa 2 spacecraft shows discoloring on the surface of Ryugu after touchdown
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Scientists celebrate at JAXA following the touchdown of Hayabusa 2
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Scientists celebrate at JAXA following the touchdown of Hayabusa 2
Scientists celebrate at JAXA following the touchdown of Hayabusa 2
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Scientists celebrate at JAXA following the touchdown of Hayabusa 2
An image captured by the Hayabusa 2 spacecraft shows discoloring on the surface of Ryugu after touchdown
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An image captured by the Hayabusa 2 spacecraft shows discoloring on the surface of Ryugu after touchdown
An image captured by the Hayabusa 2 spacecraft shows discoloring on the surface of Ryugu after touchdown
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An image captured by the Hayabusa 2 spacecraft shows discoloring on the surface of Ryugu after touchdown

Japan's trailblazing Hayabusa 2 space probe has captured physical evidence of the trail it has blazed, snapping an awe-inspiring photograph of a discolored touchdown zone moments after its rendezvous with the asteroid Ryugu.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)'s Hayabusa 2 probe finally touched down on the near-Earth asteroid Ryugu last Friday following a journey of more than four years through space. One of the key objectives for mission scientists was to momentarily touch down, blast the surface with metal projectile and collect the disturbed dust to return it to Earth.

This tricky maneuver went off without a hitch, with the scientists able to confirm the spacecraft successfully lowered itself to the surface, fired metal projectile into the gravely surface and collected the samples. It has now returned to its "home" position, orbiting Ryugu at an altitude of around 20 km (12.4 mi).

An image captured by Hayabusa 2 around a minute after contact was made from an altitude of around 25 m (82 ft) shows the aftermath of this touchdown in fine detail. In it we see the shadow of the spacecraft itself, along with what looks like scorched markings on the surface. According to JAXA, this discoloring could be the result of dirt that was stirred up by the projectile or by the thrusters when the spacecraft took off again. Here is the image in full.

An image captured by the Hayabusa 2 spacecraft shows discoloring on the surface of Ryugu after touchdown
An image captured by the Hayabusa 2 spacecraft shows discoloring on the surface of Ryugu after touchdown

The asteroid samples collected by Hayabusa 2 will be returned to Earth in late 2020 for study, all going to plan. Because the asteroid is thought to have gone largely unchanged since the formation of the Solar System some 4.6 billion years ago, scientists are hopeful the dust may reveal some of its earliest secrets, including clues as to how life itself formed.

Source: JAXA

3 comments
Mzungu_Mkubwa
I'm always struck in these photographs at how colorless these remote places seem to be. Maybe its just a subconscious comparison to all the color-saturated content we're exposed to online these days, but its like the camera's these spacecraft carry are only b&w capable? Maybe they are to save weight? Doesn't seem likely. I guess space exploration is very "shades of grey"... ☺
jeffco67
Color images use a lot more bandwidth to send. Electrical power and computing resources on space probes are always limited, so they use a lot of low-res, black and white for utility stuff, which may be the case here.
GregVoevodsky
The moon is black and white like an asteroid. Devoid of life,active chemistry and atmosphere that can create cool rusting on Mars, Jupiter and other moons with volcanic activity, chemistry and atmosphere... thus color.