Hayabusa2 Japanese robots send incredible photos from Ryugu asteroid

Rodiano Bonacci
Settembre 25, 2018

Between them, Rover-1A and Rover-1B make up MINERVA-II1, which JAXA says is "the world's first man-made object to explore movement on an asteroid surface". Now that they have safely landed, the two surface landers' rovers are capable of making good use of the low-gravity environment to hop around Ryugu and survey different parts of its surface, according to the Guardian.

The robots are created to hop around the asteroid's surface to collect photos, samples, and data from its surface, as Ryugu's gravity is too weak for rolling to work.

Although the European Space Agency has managed to land a craft on a comet, this is the first time anyone has been able to land on the surface of an asteroid.

In the coming months, the MINERVA-II rovers will be joined by two more landers.

The picture shows the asteroid with a slightly rocky surface.

Once the spacecraft reaches the surface, it will fire a bullet at great speed into Ryugu, with the resulting blasted particles being collected by a catcher.

Yuichi Tsuda, Hayabusa2 project manager 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".

While Hayabusa2 is expected to return to Earth by the end of the year 2020, CNN wrote the U.S.' own similar asteroid-sampling mission is not expected to be completed until 2023. The rovers move by "hopping" up to 15 metres (50 feet) at a time because the extremely weak gravity on the asteroid makes rolling hard.

On 3 October, the Hayabusa2 mothership will deploy a ship called Mascot, which was developed in Europe by the German Aerospace Center and France's space agency, CNES, and analyse the samples remotely.

Situated in an orbit between the Earth and Mars, the asteroid Ryugu is believed to be rich in water and organic materials, making it a ideal object for learning more about the possible extraterrestrial societies in the galaxy and maybe, other solar systems. This instrument will dig a hole on the asteroid and collect the sample from below Ryugu's surface and bring it to Earth.

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