Japanese space agency lands rovers on asteroid

James Marshall
September 24, 2018

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 stunning shots were taken as part of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's (JAXA) Hayabusa2 asteroid sampling mission on the Ryugu asteroid's surface.

"Communication with MINERVA-II1 has now stopped".

The team behind the expedition faced a nervous two-day wait for the Minerva-II rovers to send back information, but on Sunday, they confirmed the rovers landed.

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.

The rovers hop across the surface, because the gravity on the Ryugu asteroid makes it impossible for them to roll.

The two landers are meant to study the composition of Ryugu, a primitive carbonaceous near-Earth asteroid, with the ultimate objective of gathering more information about the development of the inner planets of the solar system.

The 1 km-wide space rock, which is shaped like a diamond, is expected to be "rich in water and organic materials", allowing scientists to "clarify interactions between the building blocks of Earth and the evolution of its oceans and life, thereby developing solar system science", according to JAXA.

Hayabusa2 will also deploy yet another another small rover (this time containing optical and ultraviolet LEDs) in 2019.

A third rover called MASCOT will be launched from Hayabusa2 in early October, CNN said.

The probe is on a mission to collect asteroid sample and return to Earth in December 2020.

The rovers were able to send back some incredible pictures that were transmitted back to Earth via Hayabusa-2.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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