Surface of Ryugu photographed by Hayabusa2’s navigation camera on August 7 from an altitude of about 1 kilometer (0.6 mile). 10 meters or 32.8 feet is twice the size of a Volkswagen Beetle. JAXA, University Tokyo, Koichi University, Rikkyo University, Nagoya University, Chiba Institute of Technology, Meiji University, University of Aizu, AIST
Seeing these photos of the asteroid Ryugu really makes you appreciate the Earth. Just look at it. A beat-up pile of rocks and dust blasted mercilessly by the solar wind and cosmic rays 100 million miles from the sun. Gasp! No atmosphere either. The kilometer-wide asteroid currently has a visitor, the Japanese Hayabusa-2 spacecraft. It orbits about Ryugu taking pictures while preparing to gather its first sample of dust and pebbly grit in late October.
Here’s what we know about Ryugu right now:
It’s really dark! Ryugu reflects only 2% of the light it receives from the sun, absorbing the rest. Even the moon, which is as dark as an asphalt parking lot, reflects 12%.
Its day is 7.63 hours long.
It’s shaped like a top with an equatorial bulge.
It’s covered with boulders, the largest of which — 426 feet (130 meters) across — sits atop the ...