Soon the Japanese Hayabusa 2 mission will release the German "Mascot" Lander onto the surface of the asteroid. The small box shaped lander then impacts the surface and preforms science experiments. According to the mission specifications, it's supposed to preform science at 3 different locations on the surface. In order to move from location to location, it uses a spinning wheel to impart torque and "flick" the lander to a different spot.

Question: have any other landers used a tourqe wheel to move across the surface of something? If so, which ones. Thanks Video of internals

  • $\begingroup$ this kind of thing? youtu.be/n_6p-1J551Y?t=125 $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Jun 27, 2018 at 11:04
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @uhoh yep, that's exactly what I mean $\endgroup$
    – Dragongeek
    Jun 27, 2018 at 11:05

1 Answer 1


If JAXA successfully deploys MASCOT, it will be the first lander to use "torque wheel based" propulsion. It is not, however, the first lander to be designed with such a system. JAXA's previous Hayabusa mission had the MINERVA lander on board, which intended to use an "internal fly-wheel assembly" to flick itself across the surface, but it failed to deploy properly and escaped the asteroid.

The concept of a hopping lander is not entirely new. The PROP-F Phobos Hopper was carried aboard the soviet Phobos 2 mission. This lander was similar in concept to the MINERVA and MASCOT landers, but used a spring-loaded foot pad to launch itself. The lander never saw action as communications with Phobos 2 were lost before the lander could be deployed.

JAXA's affinity for low-gravity "Hoppers" has inspired future mission concepts as well. A research team (possibly based at Cornell university) has done work in designing a small in-situ data providing lander, topically named PANIC, that will move around an asteroid by hopping. It is unclear from the limited information about this design whether it will use internal fly-wheels, but it is a likely candidate.


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