The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency has achieved the unbelievable feat of flying formation with a 865m large asteroid. On Sep 21, 2018 the spacecraft Hayabusa 2 tweeted it was within 80 metres of the diamond shaped space rock named Ryugu (162173 Ryugu).
But where is Hayabusa 2 right now?Please note: trajectory data beyond October 23rd has not yet been uploaded by the space agency. Please check back regularly for updates
It's currently --,---,--- (--,---,---) from earth, travelling at a speed of ---,--- (--,---) relative to us. Every second it gets - (-) us. In other words, it's travelling at incredible speed. It's also going 20 km/h faster every day.
How it happened: Hayabusa 2 chasing asteroid Ryugu
Launched on Dec 3, 2014, the spacecraft spent a little bit of time in the vicinity of earth, before departing on it's epic chase on Dec 3, 2015. As the asteroid is travelling at enormous speed of --,--- (--,---, --) the tiny probe had to fly very fast, reaching a top speed of 119,376 km/h (74,610 mph) At the start of it's chase Hayabusa 2 was 175,697,069 km (109,810,668 mi) away making the mission seem almost impossible. But on June 5th this year it snapped its first images of the diamond shaped space rock:
The spacecraft whose name means "Peregrine falcon", will collect samples from the surface of 162173 Ruygu and return to earth in December 2020. At this time the micro-gravity of the tiny planet keeps the spacecraft in position.
Asteroid Ryugu currently is not predicted to have a chance of a collision with earth at any time.
Photo Credit and other: JAXA, University of Tokyo & collaborators, NASA, ESO/S. Brunier, Hayabusa 2 Arrival illustration by Akihiro Ikeshita (permission granted)