science

Japan rovers send back first stunning pictures after landing on ASTEROID to make history


The Japanese space agency, JAXA, made history on September 21 by landing two rovers on a 1km asteroid.

The asteroid, called Ryugu, is now home to two rovers creatively named Rover 1A and Rover 1B where they will remain for the foreseeable in a mission that will see the bots capture images of the giant rock’s surface and temperature.

Now, the first images have arrived back from the space rock, showing their drop from satellite Hayabusa2 which had been travelling to the asteroid for three and a half years.

The images show a fast approach as the rovers head towards Ryugu.

A statement from JAXA read: “The two rovers are in good condition and are transmitting images and data.

“Analysis of this information confirmed that at least one of the rovers is moving on the asteroid surface.”

The rovers will now bounce along the surface of the asteroid, which is a 170 million miles (280 million km) away, as the gravity on Ryugu makes it impossible for them to roll.

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

“I am proud that Hayabusa2 was able to contribute to the creation of this technology for a new method of space exploration by surface movement on small bodies.”

The mission marks the first time that a rover has ever landed on an asteroid.

It differs from the European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission which landed on a comet in 2016, as that probe was only online briefly and remained stationary on the surface.

Hayabusa-2 reached the asteroid, which was left over from the early days of our Solar System, but the rovers have only just been deployed.

The rock is known as a relic and belongs to a primitive type of asteroid formerly known as 162173 Ryugu.

Should the Japanese mission go according to plan, studies of the rock could pave the way for greater knowledge of the evolution of space and Earth.



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