Status Report

New Asteroid Target Chosen for Japanese-U.S. Mission

By SpaceRef Editor
August 7, 2000
Filed under

The MUSES-C project, a joint effort of Japan’s Institute of
Space and Astronautical Sciences (ISAS) and NASA to explore an
asteroid and return a sample to Earth, has announced that the
asteroid target of the project and the launch date have been

The launch is now slated for November or December 2002,
arrival at the asteroid in September 2005 and return to earth in
June of 2007. Its previous schedule included launch in July
2002, arrival at its previous target in 2003, and return to Earth
in June 2006.

The new target is the asteroid 1998 SF36. The NASA-built
science payload is a rover that will gather and transmit science
data to the Japanese spacecraft. The spacecraft will then gather
and return to Earth samples of the asteroid. The ISAS-built
spacecraft will stay at the asteroid for three months.

The launch date and subsequent target asteroid changes are
due to delays in the provision of the Japanese MV launch vehicle,
which will carry the MUSES mission to space.

Asteroid 1998 SF36, whose orbital period is about 1.5 years,
will approach to within 6.4 million kilometers (4 million miles)
of the Earth on March 29, 2001 and to within about 2.09 million
kilometers (1.3 million miles) on June 25, 2004. Extensive
ground-based observing campaigns will be planned near these close
approach times to determine the asteroid’s approximate size,
shape, rotation state, and some surface characteristics.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., is
managing the U.S. portion of the mission, which is called MUSES-
CN, and includes the rover and various support services for the
ISAS mission. (“MUSES-C” stands for Mu Space Engineering
Spacecraft C, “N” refers to NASA.) The JPL MUSES-CN project has
also arranged for the testing of the MUSES-C reentry heat shield
at NASA’s Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif. JPL will
also arrange for supplemental tracking of the spacecraft by
NASA’s Deep Space Network, and will assist in navigating the
spacecraft to the asteroid. Japanese and U.S. scientists will
collaborate on the investigations of the asteroid and the
returned samples.

For more information, see .

MUSES CN is managed for NASA’s Office of Space Science by
the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. JPL is a
division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

SpaceRef staff editor.