Earlier this week, Japan's space agency, JAXA, stunned the world with confirmation that it had safely landed two rovers on the surface of asteroid Ryugu, doing what the European Space Agency's Rosetta had failed to do on Comet 67p. He further added, "I was so moved to see these small rovers successfully explore an asteroid surface because we could not achieve this at the time of Hayabusa, 13 years ago".
"We were able to confirm that Rover-1B hopped!"
If that wasn't awe-inspiring enough, JAXA has just released not only more images, but even a small video from Ryugu's surface, and all their footage is mind-meltingly wonderful.
The colour photos were captured by the hopping rovers as they set about exploring the asteroid's surface.
"I can not find words to express how happy I am that we were able to realize mobile exploration on the surface of an asteroid".
The rovers were stored within a container called MINERVA-II1.
Where to get java deals and freebies on National Coffee Day
Current or new members of the Krispy Kreme free-to-join Rewards program get a complimentary doughnut on Saturday too. Cinnabon: Java lovers can scorea free 12 oz. hot coffee at participating locations , no purchase necessary.
Although JAXA was unable to contact the rovers for a short time after they were sent to the surface, they've been sending photos back to JAXA.
In the coming months, the MINERVA-II rovers will be joined by two more landers.
The deployed rovers are placed into a unusual world where the surface gravity on Ryugu is only 1/80,000th the gravity of the Earth.
Minerva-II1A took photos of its shadow as it rested on the surface of the asteroid before hopping again. The robots were released at 196 ft from the asteroid on Friday. The rovers weighing around a kilo are fitted out with stereo and wide-angle cameras.
As the asteroids have low gravity, these rovers will jump as high as 49ft and stay in the air for 15 mins to analyze the geographical features of the asteroid. The container was launched from the spacecraft Hayabusa2 last week and that spacecraft is now orbiting the asteroid. They will compare the rocks to meteorites and to samples collected by other missions, including NASA's OSIRIS-Rex, which is slated to arrive at the asteroid Bennu in 2020.
"I love how this first image from the lander on the surface of the Ryugu asteroid is so Stanley Kubrickesque", the former commander of the International Space Station tweeted.