Characterization of the MASCOT landing area by Hayabusa2

1Stefan Schröder et al. (>10)
Astronomy & Astrophysics 666, A164 Open Access Link to Article [DOI https://doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361/202244059]
1Luleå University of Technology, 98128 Kiruna, Sweden
Reproduced with permission (C) ESO

Context. After landing on C-type asteroid Ryugu, MASCOT imaged brightly colored, submillimeter-sized inclusions in a small rock. Hayabusa2 successfully returned a sample of small particles from the surface of Ryugu, but none of these appear to harbor such inclusions. The samples are considered representative of Ryugu.

Aims. To understand the apparent discrepancy between MASCOT observations and Ryugu samples, we assess whether the MASCOT landing site, and the rock by implication, is perhaps atypical for Ryugu.

Methods. We analyzed observations of the MASCOT landing area acquired by three instruments on board Hayabusa2: a camera (ONC), a near-infrared spectrometer (NIRS3), and a thermal infrared imager. We compared the landing area properties thus retrieved with those of the average Ryugu surface.

Results. We selected several areas and landforms in the landing area for analysis: a small crater, a collection of smooth rocks, and the landing site itself. The crater is relatively blue and the rocks are relatively red. The spectral and thermophysical properties of the landing site are very close to those of the average Ryugu surface. The spectral properties of the MASCOT rock are probably close to average, but its thermal inertia may be somewhat higher.

Conclusions. The MASCOT rock can also be considered representative of Ryugu. Some of the submillimeter-sized particles in the returned samples stand out because of their atypical spectral properties. Such particles may be present as inclusions in the MASCOT rock.

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