Hayabusa2 Japanese robots send incredible photos from Ryugu asteroid

Hayabusa2 Japanese robots send incredible photos from Ryugu asteroid

Hayabusa2 Japanese robots send incredible photos from Ryugu asteroid

The twin rovers were deposited Friday atop the half-mile-wide asteroid Ryugu by their parent spacecraft, the Japanese space agency's Hayabusa 2.

The Minerva-II rovers were developed by JAXA and the University of Aizu, and two of the rovers have been deployed to the surface of the asteroid.

The two "MINERVA" landers, which the probe deployed on the asteroid, have already made contact with the mother ship and sent back home some awesome pictures as well.

"Although I was disappointed with the blurred image that first came from the rover, it was good to be able to capture this shot as it was recorded by the rover as the Hayabusa2 spacecraft is shown", project head Tetsuo Yoshimitsu admitted. The giant asteroid's official designation is 162173 Ryugu.

This is the first exploration of an asteroid by a rover. This is because, in addition to the Minerva-II1 rovers, another craft will soon launch from Hayabusa2 with the intention of collecting samples of the ancient space debris' surface. "I felt awed by what we had achieved in Japan".

NASA's NEAR-Shoemaker, launched in 1996, closely flew past asteroid Mathilde, coming within 1212 km of the asteroid's surface, next year.

In October, the Hayabusa2 probe will deploy an "impactor" that will explode above the asteroid, shooting a 2kg copper missile to blast a small crater into the surface. "This is just a real charm of deep space exploration", JAXA spokesperson Takashi Kubota told reporters, according to CNN.

The probe will then collect fresh materials from inside the crater which have not been exposed to wind and radiation. The rovers also feature sensors that measure the surface temperatures, and Hayabusa2 itself carries sensors for remote sensing and sampling.

The rovers are part of Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Hayabusa2 asteroid sample-return mission.

"The Hayabusa 2 will also bring back a capsule with samples", JAXA explained in a news release announcing the asteroid's name, "thus the theme of "bringing back a treasure" is common".

So far, the asteroid's surface was rougher than expected, which brought another layer of difficulty to the mission.

The expedition aims at shedding light on the origins of the solar system.

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