Japan space rovers land on asteroid

Rodiano Bonacci
Settembre 24, 2018

The images were sent to the Earth through Hayabusa 2, which allowed JAXA to confirm at night on September 22 that the two rovers had successfully touched down.

The two tiny rovers, designated Rover-1A and Rover-1B, are part of the second MIcro Nano Experimental Robot Vehicle for Asteroid (MINERVA-II) project.

"The two rovers are in good condition and are transmitting images and data", a JAXA statement said after the rovers separated from the Hayabusa2 spacecraft and landed on the asteroid Ryugu.

The rovers hop and float across the asteroid-thanks to its low gravity-to capture information including photos and the asteroid's temperature.

The rover mission marks the world's first moving, robotic observation of an asteroid's surface, according to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

CBS News reports the Hayabusa2 space probe recently arrived to an asteroid known as 162173 Ryugu, where it dropped two landers created to hop around on the surface of the celestial object as it barrels through space, after being launched nearly four years ago.

"We confirmed that both aircraft landed on the surface of the asteroid ryugu". The agency also released the first images captured by the rovers during the landing.

The agency tried but failed in 2005 to land a rover on another asteroid in a similar mission.

"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", said JAXA program manager Yuichi Tsuda.

In October, the Hayabusa2 probe will deploy an "impactor" that will explode above the asteroid, shooting a 2kg copper missile to blast a small crater into the surface. Once the probe completes taking samples from the asteroid, it will head back to Earth in late 2020. Snapped while the rover was rotating, the blurred image shows Hayabusa2 at the top of the screen with the surface of Ryugu depicted at the bottom. Nowakowski reached out to SpaceFlight Insider in an effort to have the two space-related websites collaborate.

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