Japan Lands 2 Robot Rovers on Asteroid Surface

Mindy Sparks
September 24, 2018

The stunning shots were taken as part of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's (JAXA) Hayabusa2 asteroid sampling mission on the Ryugu asteroid's surface. The craft has previously flown tantalizingly close to the asteroid's surface for the objective of measuring its gravitational pull; while descending to Ryugu this time, Hayabusa2 travelled from its orbit 12.

Part of Hayabusa2's payload is four rovers: three Minerva-II rovers, and a Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout (MASCOT) rover.

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.

The rovers are collectively known as MINERVA-II1, reports CNN.

"I felt awed by what we had achieved in Japan".


The two landers are meant to study the composition of Ryugu, a primitive carbonaceous near-Earth asteroid, with the ultimate goal of gathering more information about the development of the inner planets of the solar system.

JAXA, in a statement, claimed that a kilometer-wide diamond-shaped space rock is rich in water and organic materials that would allow scientists to clarify interactions between the building blocks of Earth and the evolution of its oceans and life, thereby developing solar system science. "Analysis of this information confirmed that at least one of the rovers is moving on the asteroid surface".

Although the biscuit tin-sized rovers touched down early on Friday morning, JAXA waited until the weekend to announce the mission's success.

The rovers are also equipped with temperature gauges and optical sensors as well as an accelerometer and a set of gyroscopes.

The rovers were dropped onto the surface by Hayabusa2 - which in October will attempt a landing to collect samples and return them to Earth.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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