A Japanese spacecraft is sending back images as it approaches an irregularly shaped asteroid that some on the mission have compared to a dumpling, reports BBC.
The Hayabusa 2 spacecraft was launched in 2014 on a quest to study the asteroid Ryugu and deliver rocks and soil from its surface to Earth. The craft is now about 215km away from Ryugu and should arrive on 27 June.Hayabusa’s camera is starting to resolve its shape, which has been likened to a Japanese dango dumpling.
But closer inspection shows that the object is pitted with dents or craters.
In addition, the asteroid’s orbit is retrograde, meaning that it spins in the opposite direction to the Sun and the Earth.
The video shown above was compiled from 52 images captured by the spacecraft’s ONC-T camera (Optical Navigation Camera - Telescopic) between 14 and 15 June.