Japanese Space Rovers Send Dazzling Photos From Asteroid Landing Back to Earth

Japanese Space Rovers Send Dazzling Photos From Asteroid Landing Back to Earth

The agency called JAXA, confirmed the successful landing Saturday and posted photos taken by the little landers online.

The rovers are collectively known as MINERVA-II1.

The rovers are created to hop along the asteroid's surface, taking photographs and gathering data.

Two robots from Japan's space agency have landed on a moving asteroid and begun a survey as part of a mission aimed at shedding light on the origins of the solar system.

The first images from the astronomical object flying at some 300 million kilometers from the Earth were received by Japan's Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) immediately after the MINERVA-II1 rovers touched down on the asteroid on Friday.

Hayabusa2 seen from just above the surface of asteroid Ryugu
Hayabusa2 seen from just above the surface of asteroid Ryugu

Two robotic rovers have become world's first to successfully land on the surface of an asteroid, the Japanese space agency JAXA said, sharing images captured by the probes. Based on the data, JAXA confirmed that the two rovers landed on Ryugu.

A series of specially designed cameras - four on the first rover and three on the second - will take stereo images of the asteroid's surface. "I am proud that Hayabusa 2 was able to contribute to the creation of this technology for a new method of space exploration by surface movement on small bodies", said Yuichi Tsuda, Hayabusa 2 Project Manager. The main Hayabusa 2 vessel should near the surface in October, when it will shoot a tantalum "bullet" into the asteroid so that it can catch particle samples and return them to Earth.

"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".

The MINERVA-II1B rover captured this view of asteroid Ryugu on September 21, 2018 shortly after separating from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Hayabusa2 spacecraft.

Tomasz Nowakowski is the owner of Astro Watch, one of the premier astronomy and science-related blogs on the internet.

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