Japanese Robots Send Pictures After Landing On Asteroid

Christopher Davidson
September 24, 2018

Japan's space agency, JAXA, launched the rovers on the Hayabusa2, and they released from the craft on 21 September.

The robots are created to hop around the asteroid's surface to collect photos, samples, and data from its surface, as Ryugu's gravity is too weak for rolling to work.

According to Space.com, the tiny landers (known as MINERVA-II1A and MINERVA-II1B) briefly lost contact with JAXA after deployment, though were later confirmed to have made it to the surface in "good condition" by the agency.

The space agency reported that MINERVA-II1 is the world's first mobile exploration robot to land on the surface of an asteroid.

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.

Because of the asteroid's low gravity the rovers will be able to hop around across its surface.

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Yuichi Tsuda, Hayabusa2 project manager said: "I can not find words to express how happy I am that we were able to realise mobile exploration on the surface of an asteroid".

The probe will then collect fresh materials from inside the crater which have not been exposed to wind and radiation.

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

It was launched in 2014 and is due to return to Earth by 2020.

Expressing his joy over the success of the project, Takashi Kubota, a spokesman for the space agency, said that he felt awed by the achievement and that it is a real charm of deep space exploration.

A previous Hayabusa mission was considered only partially successful due to technical glitches that hampered collection efforts.

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