Dr Makoto Yoshikawa is the Mission Manager for Hayabusa2 at the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS), which is part of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).
Hayabusa2 began exploring asteroid Ryugu in June 2018, and collected samples from its surface in 2019. On 6 December, the spacecraft will fly past Earth and drop the canister containing those samples into the desert of Australia. This will allow them to be analysed in laboratories across Japan and around the world.
In 2018, the prestigious science journal Nature, named Makoto as one of the “ten people who mattered” that year in science.
Makoto spoke at Asteroid Day LIVE 2020 explaining the importance of the mission, its scientific objectives, and its comparison with NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission.
His long association with Hayabusa2 began at the very start w was the project manager of Hayabusa2 when the mission started, and now he is the mission manager of Hayaubsa2.
As well as his duties as Hayabusa2 mission manager, Makoto also works as a member of the ISAS/JAXA orbit determination group, and is involving in the GEOTAIL, Akatsuki, and IKAROS missions. His research interest is celestial mechanics, especially the dynamics of small bodies in the solar system.
Other missions he has worked on are LUNAR-A (cancelled before launch), HALCA, Nozomi, and Hayabusa. For Hayabusa mission, he became project scientist in the later phase of the mission.
He also researches planetary defence, attending the NEO (Near Earth Object) working group of UN COPUOS, SMPAG (Space Missions Planning Advisory Group), and IAWN (International Asteroid Warning Network). One of the founders of Japan Spaceguard Association, most recently he has been organizing the Asia-Pacific Asteroid Observation Network (APAON).
Watch Makoto Yoshikawa speaking at Asteroid Day LIVE 2020 here.