The closest approaches ever made to asteroid Ryugu were made by Hayabusa2, the Japanese spacecraft and below you will see the most eye-catching and breath-taking pictures. In the picture below you can see Ryugu from 3.72 miles away or six kilometers with 1.9 feet or 60 centimeters per each pixel of the image.
The surface of the asteroid might soon be sampled by Hayabusa2, and it is not as easy as it sounds. The gravitational fields of an asteroid are complex, weak, dusty and own some rocky surfaces. So if the spacecraft wants to land, it is going to face a taught challenge as the way the asteroid makes it too bouncy to land. In the image towards the center, you can see a crater and a lot of big rocks.
Last week, Hayabusa2’s location was not the same as today because it started orbiting the Asteroid Ryugu at around 12.4 miles or 20 kilometers above its surface. Now, six kilometers is even closer than the scientists expected. As an exercise of imagination, think about when you are in a plane at cruising altitude. It is a height of 10.7 kilometers above the ground.
No matter the obstacles, snagging a sample of Ryugu for the spacecraft to bring it to the Earth is still in scientist’s plans and the people behind the Hayabusa2 are still working on a solution to do that. They are trying to map the asteroid in order to choose the best place where the spacecraft can land.
They are still months ahead of finding this place before attempting to land on the Asteroid Ryugu, but they have come such a long way it is not impossible to do that. It is just hard which means that a lot of work will do the job.