Asteroid rovers send home new photos

Rover 1A Hops on Asteroid Ryugu

Modal Trigger Rover 1A Hops on Asteroid Ryugu. ISAS JAXA Hayabusa2 Mission

While just the first two rovers have been deployed to the space rock's surface, the Hayabusa-2 orbiter still has a pair of rovers on board that it will deploy at a later date. They began exploring the surface, snapping pictures and taking videos, giving us a long-awaited ground-level view of an asteroid.

Japan's Hayabusa 2 mission to Ryugu is among the most bold and ambitious space missions that humans have ever launched and now, for the first time, we as a species have captured video footage on the surface of an asteroid.

Part of a collection of media released by the agency, the video shows the rocky surface of the asteroid and the sun moving across the sky, as seen from the asteroid.

The clip was shot in 15 frames, captured from 11.34 to 12:48 Australian Eastern Standard Time on September 23.

JAXA explained some of the images were blurred "because the rover is spinning" as it approaches the asteroid. Weak gravity on the asteroid makes it hard for the rovers to roll on the surface.

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"I am proud that Hayabusa2 was able to contribute to the creation of this technology for a new method of space exploration by surface movement on small bodies".

Speaking after the initial rover landings, Yuichi Tsuda, project manager for the Hayabusa2 mission, said: "I can not find words to express how happy I am that we were able to realise mobile exploration on the surface of an asteroid".

"This is just a real charm of deep space exploration".

The surface of asteroid Ryugu, taken from the Hayabusa2 spacecraft. The team will then welcome a final member, a third rover from MINERVA-II, next summer. However, the first Hayabusa failed to land its hopper, the original MINERVA, on the surface of the asteroid Itokawa more than a decade ago. Solar-powered internal rotors loft them in the asteroid's low gravity, allowing them to propel themselves across its surface to snap photographs and take temperature data.

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