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Spectral and rotational properties of near-Earth asteroid (162173) Ryugu, target of the Hayabusa2 sample return mission

Abstract : Context. The JAXA Hayabusa2 mission will perform the first ever sample return from a primitive asteroid. The target near-Earth asteroid (162173) Ryugu will be reached in mid-2018 and its samples will be returned to the Earth by the end of 2020.Aims. We want to improve the current knowledge of the compositional and rotational properties of Ryugu, which are still presenting some uncertainties that might affect the mission operations and scientific return.Methods. We acquired high-quality photometric time-series data with the FORS2 instrument at the Very Large Telescope of the European Southern Observatory (ESO-VLT, Chile). We also acquired four FORS2 visible spectra and three X-shooter spectra in the 0.35−2.15 μm range, at different rotational phases.Results. We obtained the currently highest-quality visual light-curve of Ryugu. A best solution of ~7.63 h is found for the rotational period, while a short-period solution (i.e., P ≈ 3.8 h) is ruled out by the clearly non-symmetric light-curve. The obtained spectra are generally similar and featureless, but present a drop-off of the reflectance at <0.45 μm, suggesting the presence of aqueously altered minerals on Ryugu. The best meteorite analogs for Ryugu are represented by thermally altered CM carbonaceous chondrites.Conclusions. Our new photometric data help to refine the target reference model used by the Hayabusa2 team for the mission preparation and implementation, improving our knowledge of Ryugu’s spin properties. Our new spectra constrain the compositional and geological context of the Ryugu’s surface in order to prepare the planning of mission observations and support the working group for the selection of possible landing and sampling sites.
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Submitted on : Saturday, January 16, 2021 - 7:12:10 PM
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D. Perna, M. Barucci, M. Ishiguro, A. Alvarez-Candal, D. Kuroda, et al.. Spectral and rotational properties of near-Earth asteroid (162173) Ryugu, target of the Hayabusa2 sample return mission. Astronomy and Astrophysics - A&A, EDP Sciences, 2017, 599, pp.L1. ⟨10.1051/0004-6361/201630346⟩. ⟨obspm-02268053⟩

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