The telescope photographed the next target Hayabusa2

(ORDO NEWS) — On December 10, 2020, the Subaru telescope photographed a small asteroid 1998 KY26 – the target of the extended Hayabusa2 mission.

The 1998 KY26 positional data collected during the observations will be used to more accurately determine the orbital elements of the object.

Operated by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), asteroid explorer Hayabusa2 delivered a return capsule containing samples of asteroid (162173) Ryugu to Earth on December 6. After that Hayabusa2 hit the road again, this time for an extended mission, using the remaining fuel. As part of this mission, Hayabusa2 must approach and observe its next target, a small asteroid 1998 KY26.

According to forecasts, the asteroid will approach us within 0.47 AU. from Earth in mid to late December 2020, which provides a rare opportunity that only appears once every 3.5 years. The diameter of 1998 KY26 is estimated to be no more than 30 meters, so its brightness is so low that ground-based observations of the asteroid are difficult without a very large telescope.

Observations with the Subaru telescope were carried out at the request of the Institute of Space and Astronautical Sciences (ISAS), JAXA. As a result, 1998 KY26 was photographed in the direction of the constellation Gemini in the form of a luminous point of magnitude 25.4 with a measurement error of 0.7 magnitude. The positional data collected during the observations will be used to improve the accuracy of the asteroid’s orbital elements. Similar observations were made with the Very Large Telescope (VLT) of the European Southern Observatory (ESO).

“We have successfully photographed the next target asteroid for Hayabusa2. We hope this data will help with the new Hayabusa2 mission, ”says Dr. Mitsoshi Yoshida, Subaru Telescope Director.

“After the capsule returned to Earth, Hayabusa2 traveled to a new target, a small asteroid known as 1998 KY26. This will be the first mission to this small asteroid, therefore it is of great importance both from the point of view of planetary science and planetary defense (protecting the Earth from collisions with stellar objects). The Subaru telescope observations will not only be very important data for the extended Hayabusa2 mission, but will also give impetus to future missions. We are grateful to everyone at Subaru Telescope, ”says Dr. Makoto Yoshikawa, Hayabusa2 Mission Leader at ISAS, JAXA.

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