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Hayabusa2 is a Japanese Space Agency (JAXA) mission designed to rendezvous with asteroid 162173 Ryugu and return a sample. The mission is similar in design to the first Hayabusa mission, but this will carry an impactor which will be used to create a crater and expose fresh material to be collected and returned to Earth for analysis. The mission launched on 3 December 2014 and the sample will be returned to Earth on 6 December 2020.

Spacecraft and Subsystems

The Hayabusa2 spacecraft is a modified version of the Hayabusa design. It has a box-shaped main body 1.0 x 1.6 x 1.4 m in size, with a total fueled mass of approximately 600 kg. Cruise propulsion is provided by four low-thrust (10 mN) xenon-ion-engines. Attitude control is achieved by 4 reaction wheels and twelve 20-N bipropellant hydrazine reaction control thrusters. Positional knowledge is provided by two star tracker cameras, four coarse Sun aspect sensors, two inertial reference units, and four accelerometers. For asteroid proximity operations, the spacecraft has three optical navigation cameras, LIDAR, and a laser rangefinder. Two solar panel wings with a total array area of 12 square meters protrude from the side, supplying 2.6 kW at 1 AU and 1.4 kW at 1.4 AU. Power is stored in a 13.2 AHr lithium-ion battery. Communications take place through two 1.5 meter high-gain antennae (one X-band (8 GHz, 32 Kbps) and one Ka-band (32 GHz, 32 Kbps)), a steerable two-axis gimballed X-band medium gain antenna, and three X-band low-gain antennae.

The spacecraft is powered by gallium-arsenide solar cells and a 15 A-hr rechargeable nickel-metal hydride (Ni-MH) battery. Communications are via X- and S-band. A one meter long cylindrical sampler horn, deployed shortly after launch, protrudes from the bottom of the spacecraft. There will also be a sampler comprising a sticky material which will be pushed against the surface to collect dust. The insulated and cushioned re-entry capsule, 40 cm in diameter and 25 cm deep with a mass of about 20 kg, is attached to the body of the spacecraft near the sample collection horn. The capsule has a convex nose covered with a 3 cm thick ablative heat shield to protect the samples from the high velocity (~13 km/s) re-entry.

Also mounted on the spacecraft are the MASCOT lander, the Small Carry-on Impactor (SCI), the Deployable Camera (DCAM3), the re-entry capsule, three small (1 kg) MINERVA-II rovers, and five targets. The science payload consists of a Thermal Infrared Imager (TIR) and a Near Infrared Spectrometer (NIRS3). Total cost of the mission is estimated at 16.4 billion yen (roughly $150 million U.S.)

Mission Profile

Hayabusa2 launched on 3 December 2014 at 04:22:04 UT (13:22:04 local Japanese Time) from the Tanegashima Space Center on an H2A rocket. It used an Electric Delta-V Earth Gravity Assist technique to reach the asteroid, flying by Earth on 3 December 2015 with a closest approach at 10:07 UT, and arriving at asteroid 162173 Ryugu on 27 June 2018, stationkeeping at a distance of 20 km. The position was periodically lowered for observations and rover deployment.

The MINERVA-II Rovers 1A and 1B were deployed on 21 September 2018 at 04:06 UT from about 55 meters above Ryugu's surface. Both rovers landed successfully on the surface and transmitted images and data. It was also reported that both rovers were moving on the surface after landing.

On 3 October 2018 the MASCOT rover was released from Hayabusa2 at 1:57 UT from 51 meters above Ryugu and fell to the surface. The rotating arm was used to place it in an observing position, from which it collected data over one day/night 7.6 hour rotation period. It made two "hops" and observed the asteroid over a total of almost 17 hours before the batteries ran out.

The first touchdown and sampling operation took place on 21 February 2019 at an onboard time of approximately 22:30 UT (7:30 a.m. JST 22 February), with a 19 minute light travel time at this distance. The SCI impactor was deployed on 5 April 2019 and created an approximately 10 meter diameter crater on the surface. The second sampling run was made on 11 July 2019, with touchdown occurring near the SCI crater at 01:07 UT (10:07 a.m. JST).

The Minerva II rover 2 deployment took place on 3 October 2019. After about a year and a half at Ryugu, the spacecraft was commanded to depart the asteroid and head back towards Earth on 13 November 2019 at 01:05 UT (10:05 a.m. JST) onboard time.

Hayabusa2 reached Earth on 5 December 2020. The sample capsule was released by the spacecraft bus and reentered the atmosphere at 17:28:27 UT. It landed in the Woomera Prohibited Area in Australia on 5 December at about 17:47 UT (6 December 4:17 a.m. local time, 2:47 a.m. JST). The spacecraft bus fired its engines to make a maneuver to fly past Earth and continue on an extended mission to fly by the 30-meter diameter asteroid 1998KY26, orbiting between the Earth and Mars, in July 2031.

Sampling Runs

While at the asteroid Hayabusa2 was planned to make three sampling runs, but changed the plan to the two already performed, one from unaltered surface and one from near the SCI crater. A typical sampling run started with the spacecraft commanded to move towards the selected area. At an altitude of 100 meters the craft entered autonomous mode and shortly thereafter released a target marker to land in the desired area. At 30 meters the craft aligned itself over the target and then slowly approached the surface and touched down. The 1 meter long sampling horn covered the target area, and a tantalum projectile was fired into the surface, ejecting material back up the horn through a 14 cm wide opening into one of three storage containers, which were then sealed. The bottom of the horn also has protrusions and a raised inner rim to trap samples of material during touchdown. The spacecraft then moved away from the surface.

MASCOT (Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout)

The MASCOT lander is a 29.5 x 27.5 x 19.5 cm box with a mass of 9.6 kg. It carries an IR Radiometer, magnetometer, camera, and MicroOmega spectrometer. It has no landing mechanism but was dropped on to the surface from low altitude. It has a rotatable mass which allowed it to reorient itself after landing and also to "hop" to a new location on the asteroid's surface. MASCOT is powered by batteries which lasted about 17 hours. It has a science payload of four instruments: a camera, an infrared spectrometer, a magnetometer, and a radiometer. It was deployed on 3 October 2018.

Minerva Rovers

Hayabusa2 carries three MINERVA-II rovers, which actually use internal rotating masses to "hop" across the surface. Two of the rovers, Rover-1A and Rover-1B, are each 18 cm diameter, 7 cm tall cylinders with a mass of 1.1 kg. They are equipped with a stereo camera, wide-angle camera, and temperature sensors. Power is provided by solar cells. They were deployed on 21 September 2018. Rover 2 is a 1 kg octagonal prism, 15 cm in diameter and 16 cm high. It carries two cameras, a temperature sensor, and an accelerometer It also has optical and ultraviolet LEDs for illumination. It was deployed on 3 October 2019.


The Small Carry-on Impactor (SCI) is a small cylindrically shaped penetrator which will be deployed from the Hayabusa2 spacecraft and launched by means of an explosive charge towards the asteroid. Before the SCI is launched, Hayabusa2 will move to the opposite side of the asteroid so as not to be affected by the explosion, shrapnel, or resulting ejecta. The Deployable Camera (DCAM3) will also be dropped off before detonation in order to return images of the impact. The impactor has a diameter of 30 cm, is 30 cm high, and has a total mass of 15 kg, including the electronics, housing, and detonator. The projectile itself is a 2.5 kg copper liner backed by a 4.5 kg conical shape charge of plasticized HMX explosive. The SCI will be maneuvered into position and aimed at the target point on the asteroid before release. (SCI has no attitude and position control.) The explosive will be detonated, deforming the copper liner into an impactor shape and driving it into the asteroid at 2 km/s.

Asteroid Ryugu

Asteroid 162173 Ryugu (originally 1999 JU3) is a Near Earth Asteroid with a semi-major axis of 1.19 AU and an orbital eccentricity of 0.19, which puts its perihelion near Earth's orbit and its aphelion near Mars'. The asteroid is roughly spherical (axis ratio approximately 1.3 : 1.1 : 1.0) with an effective diameter of 875 meters and a rotation period of 7.6 hours. It is a C-Type (carbonaceous) asteroid, expected to be relatively rich in organic compounds.

Spacecraft image credit JAXA

Alternate Names

  • 40319
  • Hayabusa 2
  • urn:jaxa:darts:context:instrument_host:spacecraft.hyb2

Facts in Brief

Launch Date: 2014-12-03
Launch Vehicle: H-2A
Launch Site: Tanegashima, Japan
Mass: 600 kg

Funding Agency

  • Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (Japan)


  • Planetary Science

Additional Information

Questions and comments about this spacecraft can be directed to: Dr. David R. Williams



NameRoleOriginal AffiliationE-mail

Selected References

  • Hasegawa, S., et al., Albedo, Size, and Surface Characteristics of Hayabusa-2 Sample-Return Target 162173 1999 JU3 from AKARI and Subaru Observations, Publications of the Astronomical Society of Japan, 60, No.SP2, S399-S405, doi:10.1093/pasj/60.sp2.S399, Dec. 2008.
  • Tsuda, Y., et al., System design of the Hayabusa 2-Asteroid sample return mission to 1999 JU3, Acta Astronaut., 91, 356-362, doi:10.1016/j.actaastro.2013.06.028, Oct. 2013.
  • Ishiguro, M., et al., Optical Properties of (162173) 1999 JU3: In Preparation for the JAXA Hayabusa 2 Sample Return Mission, Astrophys. J., 792, No. 1, 74, doi:10.1088/0004-637X/792/1/74, Sept. 2014.
  • Watanabe, S.-I., et al., Hayabusa2 Mission Overview, Space Sci. Rev., 208, No. 1-4, 3-16, doi:10.1007/s11214-017-0377-1, Jul. 2017.
  • Sawada, H., et al., Hayabusa2 Sampler: Collection of Asteroidal Surface Material, Space Sci. Rev., 208, No. 1-4, 81-106, doi:10.1007/s11214-017-0338-8, Jul. 2017.
  • Okazaki, R., et al., Hayabusa2 Sample Catcher and Container: Metal-Seal System for Vacuum Encapsulation of Returned Samples with Volatiles and Organic Compounds Recovered from C-Type Asteroid Ryugu, Space Sci. Rev., 208, No. 1-4, 107-124, doi:10.1007/s11214-016-0289-5, Jul. 2017.
  • Saiki, T., et al., The Small Carry-on Impactor (SCI) and the Hayabusa2 Impact Experiment, Space Sci. Rev., 208, No. 1-4, 165-186, doi:10.1007/s11214-016-0297-5, Jul. 2017.
  • Watanabe, S., et al., Hayabusa2 arrives at the carbonaceous asteroid 162173 Ryugu—A spinning top-shaped rubble pile, Science, 364, No. 6437, doi:10.1126/science.aav8032, Apr. 2019.
  • Kikuchi, S., et al., Hayabusa2 Landing Site Selection: Surface Topography of Ryugu and Touchdown Safety, Space Sci. Rev., 216, No. 7, doi:10.1007/s11214-020-00737-z, Oct. 2020.
  • Matsumoto, K., et al., Improving Hayabusa2 trajectory by combining LIDAR data and a shape model, Icarus, 338, doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2019.113574, Mar. 2020.
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