The MASCOT lander released from Japan’s Hayabusa 2 spacecraft this week made three hops to different locations on asteroid Ryugu before draining its battery, outliving its design life and sending back data from all four of its instruments, according to German and French officials who developed the surface robot.
Two U.S. astronauts flanked a veteran Russian cosmonaut Thursday for a ride back to Earth from the International Space Station. The trio undocked from the station in their Soyuz spacecraft at 0757 GMT (3:57 a.m. EDT), beginning a return flight that culminated in a parachute-assisted landing on the steppe of Kazakhstan at 1145 GMT (7:45 a.m. EDT).
A Falcon 9 rocket powered by a recycled first stage lit its main engines for a hold-down firing on a launch pad Tuesday at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California in preparation for launch with an Argentine radar satellite on a mission that will feature the first SpaceX booster landing on the West Coast.
Track the progress of the MASCOT lander, a tiny robot developed in Germany and France, as it explores asteroid Ryugu for a daring mission to hop across the austere world’s boulder-strewn landscape, taking pictures and collecting scientific data along the way. The robotic probe was released from the Hayabusa 2 spacecraft around 0200 GMT Wednesday (10 p.m. EDT Tuesday), and touched down a few minutes later.
An Ariane 5 rocket emerged from the final assembly building at the Guiana Space Center in South America on Monday for the journey across the tropical spaceport to the ELA-3 launch zone, where the 179-foot-tall (54.8-meter) booster will lift off Tuesday with a pair of commercial communications satellites.