The Near-Earth Asteroid 162173 Ryugu is a C-type asteroid which preserves information about the ancient Solar System and is considered enriched in volatiles such as water and organics associated with the building blocks of life, and it is a potentially hazardous object that might impact Earth. Hayabusa2 is the asteroid explorer organized by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency to rendezvous with the asteroid and collect surface materials to return them to Earth. Thermography has been carried out from Hayabusa2 during the asteroid proximity phase, to unveil the thermophysical properties of the primitive Solar System small body, which offered a new insight for understanding the origin and evolution of the Solar System, and demonstrated the technology for future applications in space missions. Global, local, and close-up thermal images taken from various distances from the asteroid strongly contributed to the mission success, including suitable landing site selection, safe assessment during descents into the thermal environments and hazardous boulder abundance, and the detection of deployable devices against the sunlit asteroid surface. Potential applications of thermography in future planetary missions are introduced.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited