The asteroid explorer Hayabusa2 successfully accomplished many missions between its arrival at the asteroid Ryugu in June 2018 and its departure in November 2019. Among other things, it conducted observations of the asteroid, touching down on it, and releasing the Small Carry-on Impactor (SCI).
A procedures manual was drawn up for precisely controlling the explorer during execution of each mission. The team that designed Hayabusa2, who after all knew its capabilities inside out, compiled a manual on how to safely maneuver the explorer.
Between 2015 and 2018, some 8,000 emails were sent or received by the JAXA Hayabusa2 project team on the subject of creating this manual and other policy adjustments. According to project engineer Takanao Saiki, as a result, the touchdown manual alone consisted of around 20,000 lines.
Real-time integrated operation (RIO) training at JAXA’s Institute of Space and Astronautical Science. RIO training, which used a hardware simulator of the explorer, was designed to refine operational procedures and operational tools, and drill personnel, by simulating round-trip propagation delay, image navigation telemetry, the relative motion of the asteroid, and so forth. Engineers from NEC also took part, developing the operational procedures manual and, after training, making improvements. The results were successfully reflected in the actual mission thanks to close communication between the two sides.
Interview and article by Ayano Akiyama
Published March 30, 2020