They Made It! Japan's Two Hopping Rovers Successfully Land on Asteroid Ryugu

They Made It! Japan's Two Hopping Rovers Successfully Land on Asteroid Ryugu

They Made It! Japan's Two Hopping Rovers Successfully Land on Asteroid Ryugu

Once they hit the surface, the two rovers began moving around in hops created by internal rotations and started using stereo and wide angle camera, and thermometers.

Japan's Aerospace Exploration Agency, JAXA, shared photos taken by its MINERVA-II1A and MINERVA-II1B from the surface of the asteroid Ryugu on Saturday.

"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. Engineers with the agency deployed the robots early Friday (Sept. 21), but JAXA waited until today (Sept. 22) to confirm the operation was successful and both rovers made the landing safely.

The robots will take advantage of the asteroid's low gravity, jumping around on the surface - soaring as high as 15 metres (49ft) and staying in the air for as long as 15 minutes - to survey the asteroid's physical features. "We don't have confirmation yet, but we are very, very hopeful", JAXA project manager Yuichi Tsuda told reporters.

They will also measure the surface temperature ahead of Hayabusa2's own landing late next month.

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The probe will also release a French-German landing vehicle named the mobile asteroid surface scout (MASCOT) for surface observation.

According to JAXA, the two robots, named Rover-1A and Rover-1B, were separated from Hayabusa 2 on the afternoon of September 21 at an altitude of 55 meters above Ryugu, which is about 300 million kilometers from Earth.

The Hayabusa2 mission was launched in December 2014 and will return to Earth with its samples in 2020.

Ryugu in an Apollo-type potentially hazardous asteroid (PHA), with a diameter of around 0.6 miles (1 kilometer).

As the craft approached to within 100 meters (328 feet) of the space rock, it sent back a photo showing Hayabusa2's shadow projected onto its barren, cratered surface. Nowakowski's generous offer was gratefully received with the two organizations now working to better relay important developments as they pertain to space exploration.

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