The upcoming very busy planetary probe season


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The next few months are going to be very busy and exciting for the planetary science community. Seven different probes will be either flying past or landing on four different solar system objects, with interesting events happening every few weeks:

  • September 21: One of Hayabusa-2’s mini-landers, Minerva-II-1, will land on the asteroid Ryugu
  • October 3: Another Hayabusa-2 mini-lander, MASCOT, will land on Ryugu
  • Late October: Hayabusa-2 itself will land and grab a sample of Ryugu
  • November 26: The U.S. lander InSight will land on Mars.
  • December 3: OSIRIS-REx will arrive at the asteroid Bennu.
  • December: Chang’e-4 will land on the Moon’s far side.
  • January 1: New Horizons will fly past the Kuiper Belt object Ultima Thule.

In addition, another Hayabusa-2 mini-lander will also land on Ryugu, sometime after Hayabusa-2’s landing. Moreover, as OSIRIS-REx and New Horizons approach their targets we shall see daily new and increasingly sharper images of both Bennu and Ultima Thule, prior to their arrival.

I expect from September to January there will be many many very cool images coming from space, on almost a daily basis.

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