by Staff Writers
Tokyo, Japan (SPX) Dec 15, 2015
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) confirmed that the Asteroid Explorer "Hayabusa2" is cruising on its target orbit after measuring and calculating the post-Earth-swing-by orbit.
The Hayabusa2 performed the Earth swing-by on the night of December 3 (Thu.), 2015 (Japan Standard Time).
The Hayabusa2 flew closest to the Earth at 7:08 p.m. (JST) and passed over the Pacific Ocean near the Hawaii islands at an altitude of about 3,090 km.
With the swing-by, the explorer's orbit turned by about 80 degrees and its speed increased by about 1.6 km per second to about 31.9 km per second (against the Sun) thus the orbit achieved the target numbers.
According to the operation supported by the NASA Deep Space Network stations and European Space Agency deep space ground station, the Hayabusa2 is in good health.
Message from Project Manager Yuichi Tsuda: "I would like to express my deep gratitude to all pertinent parties and people and those who are supporting our operation.
All the Hayabusa2 project team members have been working together and will continue our challenging voyage. The Hayabusa2 gained orbit energy through the swing-by to leave the Earth. The target is the asteroid 'Ryugu.' 'See you later, people on Earth!'"
As of 0:00 a.m. on Dec. 14, 2015, the Hayabusa2 is flying at about 4.15 million km from the Earth, and about 144.85 million km from the Sun. Its cruising speed is 32.31 km per second (against the Sun).
The Hayabusa2 is increasing its speed under the influence of the Sun's gravity after the swing-by.
After the swing-by, the Hayabusa2 took images of the Earth using its onboard Optical Navigation Camera - Telescopic (ONC-T). The ONC-T can shoot color images using seven filters.
The accompanying image is composed by using three of these filters. You can see the Australian continent and Antarctica in the image.
The South Pole is not lit by the Sun during the summer, and meteorological satellites also do not cover the Antarctic area to take its images, hence the shot this time is precious.
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency
Asteroid and Comet Mission News, Science and Technology
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