While Japan’s Minerva II hopper rovers got there first, at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC 2018) in Bremen, the nearby German Aerospace Centre (DLR) was celebrating the landing success of the German-French Mobile Asteroid Surface SCouT (MASCOT) lander.  After its Japanese mother ship Hayabusa-2 lowered itself to just above the surface, Hayabusa-2, at 51m altitude, was spring released the MASCOT at 0157 GMT on 3 October. JAXA’s Hayabusa-2 spacecraft then raised itself back 3 km altitude.

The DLR laboratories proudly show off a 3D display of how the MASCOT lander fell towards the asteroid surface. Courtesy: Seradata/David Todd

The 10kg MASCOT landed on the 800m wide Ryugu at 0217 GMT and transmitted data and imagery from the surface including during two more reaction wheel induced hops after an initial flip was needed to get it the right way up.  The small battery powered spacecraft stopped transmitting at 1904 GMT lasting two hours longer than its originally planned 15 hours operational lifespan on surface. All times from JAXA via Jonathan McDowell.

The 20 x 30 x 30cm MASCOT rover carried 3kg of instruments including a magnetometer, radiometer, a microscope and a camera.