Japan's robot rovers lands on asteroid's surface, captures incredible photos
Tokyo, Sep 24: The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has announced and shared photos from the successful landing of a pair of hopping research robots on the near-earth asteroid Ryugu (Space.com).
First pictures from the Japan rovers:
Two MINERVA rovers were deployed on Sept. 21 and both have successfully landed. The first shot sent back can be seen above. It's a little blurry -- mainly because the rover was spinning when it took the shot.
How did Japanese space robots land on an asteroid?
The MINERVA rovers were launched from Japan's Hayabusa 2 probe, which has been orbiting an asteroid called Ryuga for a few months now. They were dropped by the Hayabusa2 spacecraft, which descended to a distance of just 55 metres above the asteroid's surface to deposit the rovers before returning to its customary altitude of 20km above the rocky body. 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".
Japan's Hayabusa-2 spacecraft intends to land a larger rover, called MASCOT
Hayabusa2 will deploy another rover called MASCOT in October and will also collect samples of the asteroid before it sets off on its return journey to Earth in December 2019.
About Asteroid Ryugu :
Asteroid Ryugu is a 3,278ft-wide (1km) space rock from the earliest days of the solar system. The giant asteroid's official designation is 162173 Ryugu.