Hayabusa2 probe releases two rovers over Ryugu asteroid

24 Setiembre, 2018, 17:00 | Author: Enrique Watson
  • Japanese Space Rovers Send Dazzling Photos From Asteroid Landing Back to Earth

The space agency confirmed that after the landing, at least one of the two Minerva-II 1 rovers succeeded in jumping to another location on the surface of Ryugu by using an internal motor. On September 21, the small compact MINERVA-II1 rovers separated from the Hayabusa2 spacecraft.

JAXA said confirmation of the robots' safe touchdown has to wait until it receives data from them.

Due to the asteroid's weak gravitational pull, the rovers dropped slowly to the surface as there was a risk that they could float off into space if they landed hard.

Two small robotic explorers released from Japan's Hayabusa2 spacecraft have successfully touched down on asteroid Ryugu, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency said Saturday.

"I can not find words to express how happy I am that we were able to realize mobile exploration on the surface of an asteroid", said JAXA program manager Yuichi Tsuda. "Both rovers are confirmed to have landed on the surface of 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.

Japanese Space Rovers Send Dazzling Photos From Asteroid Landing Back to Earth
Two Japanese robots are now happily hopping on an asteroid [Updated]

The rovers are part of the MINERVA-II1 program, and are created to hop along the asteroid's surface, taking photographs and gathering data.

Another container will deploy another hopping rover, a German/French co-operative effort called MASCOT.

Hayabusa2 was launched in December 2014 and is scheduled to stay on the asteroid for about a year and a half before returning to Earth in late 2020.

The round, cookie tin-shaped robots successfully reached the Ryugu asteroid a day after they were released from the Hayabusa2 probe, the agency said. Study of this asteroid could be important for planetary researchers as it may contain organic matter and water.

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

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