Thursday, 20 June, 2019

Japan’s ‘hopping rovers’ successfully land & send first images from Ryugu asteroid

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
Sandy Nunez | 24 September, 2018, 17:01

One dropped this past weekend, and in it were two 18cm diameter MINERVA-II rovers. On September 21, the small compact MINERVA-II1 rovers separated from the Hayabusa2 spacecraft.

A pair of tiny JAXA robots, released by the Hayabusa2 probe, have successfully landed on the Ryugu asteroid and began transmitting images from the surface of the "potentially hazardous" object four years after the mission launch.

The rovers hop and float across the asteroid-thanks to its low gravity-to capture information including photos and the asteroid's temperature.

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.

"I am so proud that we have established a new method of space exploration for small celestial bodies", said JAXA's project manager, Yuichi Tsuda.

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

While the first images were less than awe-inspiring, successive shots show a craggy, pitted surface fit for a Hollywood blockbuster. It arrived at Ryugu on June 27, 2018 and is scheduled to depart from the asteroid in December 2019 in order to return to our planet in December 2020.

The solar-powered rovers' voltage plunged as night fell on Ryugu, a sign that they are on the asteroid, said Hayabusa project team spokesman Takashi Kubota.

The agency tried but failed to land a rover on another asteroid in a similar mission in 2005. After the rovers were on their way, the spacecraft raised itself back up to its typical altitude of about 12.5 miles above the asteroid's surface (20 kilometers). Nowakowski's generous offer was gratefully received with the two organizations now working to better relay important developments as they pertain to space exploration.