Japan landed two rovers on an asteroid's surface after four years

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

Measuring just 18-by-7cms and weighing about one kilo, MINERVA-II1 rovers will take advantage of Ryugu's low gravity to hop about the surface of the asteroid, which is approximately one kilometer in diameter. On September 21, the small compact MINERVA-II1 rovers separated from the Hayabusa2 spacecraft.

Hayabusa2 released the Minerva-II 1 rovers toward a point about 140 meters north of Ryugu's equator on Friday afternoon Japan time.

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.

Hayabusa2 will next month deploy an "impactor" that will explode above the asteroid, shooting a two-kilo (four-pound) copper object to blast a small crater into the surface. The agency also released the first images captured by the rovers during the landing. After touching down, the small robotic explorers started hopping and floating around to collect images and data.

The probe will also release a French-German landing vehicle named the mobile asteroid surface scout (MASCOT) for surface observation. The rovers came from the spacecraft Hayabusa2.

"The good news made me so happy", Hayabusa2 project spokesperson Takashi Kubota said.

Since it arrived at Ryugu, scientists have been looking for suitable landing sites on the uneven surface, and its first attempt is expected in October.

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. Once the probe completes taking samples from the asteroid, it will head back to Earth in late 2020. Nowakowski's generous offer was gratefully received with the two organizations now working to better relay important developments as they pertain to space exploration.

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