Hayabusa-2: Japan hopes for historic asteroid landing

Hayabusa-2: Japan hopes for historic asteroid landing

Hayabusa-2: Japan hopes for historic asteroid landing

They are part of the MINERVA-II1 asteroid sample-return mission, and the rovers are created to hop along the surface of the asteroid to collect data to send back to Earth.

"We are very hopeful", project manager Yuichi Tsuda said. The blurry area at upper left was caused by reflected sunlight.

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

They have been created to "hop" along the surface of the asteroid as its low gravity would complicate the traditional way of robotic explorers rolling on wheels or tracks.

Early on Thursday morning (GMT), Hayabusa-2 began descending towards the surface of Ryugu, preparing to eject its rovers. During this period, the rover will analyze the hole made and collect samples that will be picked up by Hayabusa2 which is expected to land on the surface at the end of October next year.

"We are sorry we have kept you waiting!"

"The two rovers are in good condition and are transmitting images and data", it said in a statement. This color image was captured while moving (during a hop) on the surface of Ryugu.

About 30cm across, it will use LEDs to illuminate and detect dust particles and carries an infrared spectrometer, a magnetometer, a radiometer and a camera. A fourth lander is slated for deployment some time next year.

Hayabusa2 will next month deploy an "impactor" that will explode above the asteroid, shooting a two-kilo copper object to blast a small crater into the surface.

The agency called JAXA, confirmed the successful landing Saturday and posted photos taken by the little landers online. "This is just a real charm of deep space exploration". "We are at present attempting to affirm if there are pictures catching the MINERVA-II1 landing".

The spacecraft arrived near the asteroid, about 280 million kilometres from Earth, in June. The probe is on an asteroid sample-return mission, and is planning to survey the asteroid and return to Earth in December 2020. Spine-like projections from the edges of the hoppers are sensors that will measure surface temperatures on the asteroid.

Asteroids are believed to have rich information about the formation of the solar system billions of years ago.

Related news