JAXA has confirmed the engine burn to allow Ryugu to capture Hayabusa 2. Up close, the asteroid doesn’t look quite as clearly octahedral, but it’s still showing a remarkable diamond silhouette. The surface is battered, but not in the manner we’re used to seeing with larger bodies. The craters have soft edges, and the surface in general looks more like a clump of fine particles with occasional rocks stuck in it, probably reflecting a relatively loose composition.
The spacecraft is expected to stay at Ryugu for 18 months, during which it will make a series of daring touch-and-go landings, deploy a series of landing vehicles, and even launch an impactor at the asteroid. It will also attempt to collect material using a feed horn device similar to that used on the original Hayabusa. At the end of its stay, Hayabusa 2 will fire its engines to leave orbit around Ryugu and head back to Earth, with arrival scheduled for 2020. The original mission returned only a tiny amount of material, but enough to make comparisons to what Hayabusa 2 will return. The exciting part of the mission is only just beginning!