I have a slight concern about nasty loadings on JAXA servers, but since they're running public large screen displays in at least one city centre, I suspect they're already holding the bedposts, ready for a ride.
The Hayabusa2 probe is coming in for it's touchdown on asteroid Ryugu, and the near-real-time navigation camera images are being posted during the docking manoeuvrer.
Commanders might feel a frisson of familiarity. Along with the "ground-rush" effect as your crushing impact looms.
The spacecraft has currently slowed it's descent rate to 40cm/s and will be decelerating towards contact.
Image galleries (updated regularly, but transmission is concentrated on science and operations data, not pretty pictures).
EDIT : While I wait for the next image, I'll append this note from the image gallery page :
Unlike the cuboctahedra (or truncated cube, or truncated octahedron) of a "Coriolis" station, the rotation axis is approximately in the plane of the picture and the contact site is not at the sub-spacecraft point. Hey, it's actually nice to not have to think how to explain that to an audience, because you'll all have pulled sharply back on the stick while firing the retro-rockets.
There are "shape models" and I think image maps on the JAXA site, which may appeal to the station-modders and such like.
EDITS : Images moved to the end. refresh every so often.
Ground-rush : First image above is the 2019/02/21:12:49 image. The next posted is for 13:18, it is noticeably larger, the south-polar boulder is rotating in the view, and you can start to see why finding the "docking pOOint" has taken months of mapping and surveying.
This series of three shows about quarter a rotation of the asteroid. (From Wiki, "Rotation period 7.627±0.007 h")
http://www.hayabusa2.jaxa.jp/en/galleri ... 211415.jpg 14:15
Half-hour images are probably a bit much. I'll dial it back a bit. But you can still see the rotation. Can you guess where the docking pOOint will be?
Ah, if I make alternating images into URLs ... ? Yeah, that looks OK.
http://www.hayabusa2.jaxa.jp/en/galleri ... 211513.jpg 15:13
http://www.hayabusa2.jaxa.jp/en/galleri ... 211611.jpg 16:11
http://www.hayabusa2.jaxa.jp/en/galleri ... 211640.jpg 16:40
http://www.hayabusa2.jaxa.jp/en/galleri ... 211709.jpg 17:09
A bit samey, but there is what looks like an eroded crater coming into view on the approaching limb. Annoying that the solar panel/ antenna orientation constraints mean the Sun, Hyabusa, Ryugu and Earth need to be roughly co-linear, so it's hard to see the shadows. 2.17km to touchdown. They'll be touching the retro-thrusters soon.
17:38, and the obvious boulders have rotated out of view. Unfortunately, with a mere 1m between the rim of the sample-collecting horn and the base of the spacecraft, a small boulder is all it would take, 1.9km to go.
http://www.hayabusa2.jaxa.jp/en/galleri ... 211806.jpg 18:06
http://www.hayabusa2.jaxa.jp/en/galleri ... 211835.jpg 18:35
http://www.hayabusa2.jaxa.jp/en/galleri ... 211904.jpg 19:04
The large boulders visible at the start of the series are coming back into view, and mutely answering any questions about why they're not in the landing zone. The spacecraft's off-set from the sub-solar point is starting to show in the illumination pattern.
I can park my Cobra faster than that. But that's on an engineered artefact, not a pile of rubble glued together with a little bit of gravity and a lot of vacuum welding.
The slightly "equatorial ridge ridge on a spheroid" structure is reminiscent of the "WTF ??" that accompanied the first post-flyby images from MU-69/ Ultima Thule.
Teatime break - updates
http://www.hayabusa2.jaxa.jp/en/galleri ... 212002.jpg 20:02 Only half of this image came down for some reason.
http://www.hayabusa2.jaxa.jp/en/galleri ... 212030.jpg 20:30 The south pole boulder field is coming back into view. Quite what the geometry is to get such large shadows, I'm going to have to twist my braincells to work out. Maybe it's where the Rock Hermit hangers his Krait?
20:59 And the South Pole Hanger complex is really showing up. There's a little dark spot in the bright, flat illumination of the "sub-Solar point".
21:31 And the sub-Solar shadow has become clearly two-lobed. It's the shadow of the spacecraft. 560m from the asteroid centre, but 250m from the surface.
http://www.hayabusa2.jaxa.jp/en/galleri ... 212202.jpg 22:02 image, with a really pronounced shadow and zoom has got so close that the touchdown point has gone out of the FoV. (I think.)