NEC has begun the system design of Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA) second Hayabusa Asteroid Explorer under the Hayabusa 2 project.

The Hayabusa 2 Asteroid Explorer is the successor of the previously launched Hayabusa asteroid explorer. Under the project, NEC will be responsible for delivering system design for the asteroid explorer and subsystem designs such as the Ka-band communication subsystem, which can transmit a high-capacity at a frequency of 27-40GHz, faster than the 8-12GHz X-band transmissions used by the original Hayabusa.

The Ka-band communication subsystem will provide greater data transmission volume for deep space exploration. The intermediate-infrared camera is an imaging camera employed for observing surface conditions on the asteroid, such as temperature. The camera will be equipped with a range of additional NEC sensing technologies that include a laser camera to capture the shape of the asteroid, as well as a multi-band, visible-light camera used for geographical mapping and the measurement of mineral distribution.

The second Hayabusa explorer is scheduled to be launched in 2014 and will land at the asteroid 1999 JU3 in mid-2018, before returning to Earth by the end of 2020.

JAXA’s primary aim is to gather and return samples from asteroid 1999 JU3 that might help to give details about the origin and evolution of the solar system. The samples will also assist in gathering organic matter and hydrated minerals that will in turn help the study of the raw materials of living organisms.

The company will also undertake a round-trip of operations of the original Hayabusa to the asteroid Itokawa.