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Images from the surface of asteroid Ryugu show rocks similar to carbonaceous chondrite meteorites

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Science  23 Aug 2019:
Vol. 365, Issue 6455, pp. 817-820
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaw8627

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Landing on the surface of Ryugu

In October 2018, the Hayabusa2 spacecraft dropped the Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout (MASCOT) lander onto the surface of the asteroid (162173) Ryugu. Jaumann et al. analyzed images taken by the MASCOT camera during its descent and when resting on the surface. Colored light-emitting diodes were used to illuminate the lander's surroundings at night and produce color images. Ryugu's surface is dominated by two types of rock, but there is no evidence for fine-grained dust. Millimeter-sized inclusions in the rocks are similar to those present in carbonaceous chondrite meteorites. MASCOT operated for 17 hours on the surface before its nonrechargeable batteries ran out.

Science, this issue p. 817

Abstract

The near-Earth asteroid (162173) Ryugu is a 900-m-diameter dark object expected to contain primordial material from the solar nebula. The Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout (MASCOT) landed on Ryugu’s surface on 3 October 2018. We present images from the MASCOT camera (MASCam) taken during the descent and while on the surface. The surface is covered by decimeter- to meter-sized rocks, with no deposits of fine-grained material. Rocks appear either bright, with smooth faces and sharp edges, or dark, with a cauliflower-like, crumbly surface. Close-up images of a rock of the latter type reveal a dark matrix with small, bright, spectrally different inclusions, implying that it did not experience extensive aqueous alteration. The inclusions appear similar to those in carbonaceous chondrite meteorites.

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