The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency has achieved the unbelievable feat of flying formation with a 865m large asteroid. On Sep 21, 2018 the spacecraft Hayabusa 2 tweeted it was within 80 metres of the diamond shaped space rock named Ryugu (162173 Ryugu).
But where is Hayabusa 2 right now?
It's currently 320,025,154 (200,015,721) from earth, travelling at a speed of 23,089 (14,430) relative to us. Every second it gets 6.5 closer to us. In other words, it's travelling at incredible speed. It's also going 20 km/h faster every day.
Since midnight last night, the space probe has travelled 95,721 (59,825). Since you started looking at this page it has travelled 123 (77).
How it happened: Hayabusa 2 chasing asteroid Ryugu
Launched on Dec 3, 2014, the spacecraft spent a little bit of time in the vicinity of earth, before departing on it's epic chase on Dec 3, 2015. As the asteroid is travelling at enormous speed of 115,431 (72,144) the tiny probe had to fly very fast, reaching a top speed of 119,376 km/h (74,610 mph) At the start of it's chase Hayabusa 2 was 175,697,069 km (109,810,668 mi) away making the mission seem almost impossible. But on June 5th this year it snapped its first images of the diamond shaped space rock:
The spacecraft whose name means "Peregrine falcon", will collect samples from the surface of 162173 Ruygu and return to earth in December 2020. At this time the micro-gravity of the tiny planet keeps the spacecraft in position.
Asteroid Ryugu currently is not predicted to have a chance of a collision with earth at any time.
Photo Credit and other: JAXA, University of Tokyo & collaborators, NASA, ESO/S. Brunier, Hayabusa 2 Arrival illustration by Akihiro Ikeshita (permission granted)