Japan craft drops rovers on asteroid

They Made It! Japan's Two Hopping Rovers Successfully Land on Asteroid Ryugu

Rovers from Hayabusa2 land on asteroid

One of the rovers snapped a photo of Ryugu after it was from its mother-ship Hayabusa2 while another took photos showing a blurry image of both Hayabusa2 and Ryugu just as it was approaching the asteroid.

If the mission is successful, the rovers will conduct the world's first moving, robotic observation of an asteroid's surface.

"I'm proud we now have the means to travel across the surface of a small astronomical body, and that Hayabusa2 was able to contribute", project manager Yuichi Tsuda said in a written comment.

The Hayabusa2 team confirmed the rovers' deployment and established communication with them shortly thereafter. The blurry area at upper left was caused by reflected sunlight. The MINERVA-II1 consists of two rovers, Rover-1A and Rover-1B. The landers then slowly fell to the surface.

You'll be waiting a while for the samples to return.

'The two rovers are in good condition and are transmitting images and data, ' a statement said.

About 30cm across, it will use LEDs to illuminate and detect dust particles and carries an infrared spectrometer, a magnetometer, a radiometer and a camera. A fourth lander is slated for deployment some time next year.

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They are created to move on the surface of Ryugu by making repeated jumps using solar-powered motors.

The first-ever landing by a roving explorer on an asteroid means redemption for the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, which failed on a similar mission in 2005.

The two rovers together are called MINERVA-II1. One of the images was taken during a hop, and the resulting blur gives the feel of dynamic movement. "I want to see images of space as seen from the surface of the asteroid", he said.

"From the surface of Ryugu, MINERVA-II1 sent a radio signal to the Earth via Hayabusa2", Kubota said.

Hayabusa2 began its journey on December 3, 2014, and actually had to travel 3.2 billion kilometres to make the rendezvous.

Ryugu has very little gravity, so hopping must be done carefully.

And in late October, Hayabusa-2 will descend to the surface of Ryugu to collect a sample of rock and soil. Hayabusa2 was built after learning from the original mission, and seeks to study its asteroid in greater depth, return a greater amount of material, and deliver insights about the origins of the Solar System.

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