Japan makes history by landing two space rovers on an asteroid

Japan Lands Robot Rovers On Asteroid To Collect Solar System Data

The two rovers wasted little time in capturing close-up images of their surroundings, as well as performing tasks such as taking temperature readings of the rock's surface.

Japanese space agency JAXA has claimed that it created history on Saturday by successfully landing two unmanned rovers on an asteroid. While they contain scientific instruments including cameras, thermometers, and accelerometers, one goal of the rovers (which use torque generated by rotating internal components instead of wheels) is simply to act as a proof of concept for low-gravity environmental exploration.

The MINERVA-II1 with two rovers was launched from Japan's Hayabusa 2 probe, and landed on the surface of asteroid Ryugu.

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

The ambitious mission took a big step forward over the weekend as Hayabusa 2 descended to within about 60 meters of the 900-meter-wide asteroid before sending down Rover-1A and Rover-1B inside the Minerva-II-1 lander.

Two mini space rovers have landed on an asteroid and sent images back to Earth.

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With the successful landing the MINERVA rovers became the first ever mobile robots to conduct observations on an asteroid.

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

Scientists are now gearing up for a crucial part of the mission involving the collection of particle samples from Ryugu to bring back to Earth.

"I felt awed by what we had achieved in Japan".

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

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

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