Two tiny Japanese hopping robots have successfully landed on an asteroid called Ryugu, on Friday, 300 million kilometers from Earth.
After two days, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency confirmed the operation was successful. „Both rovers are confirmed to have landed on the surface of Ryugu. They are in good condition and have transmitted photos & data. We also confirmed they are moving on the surface,” the agency said. The rovers are part of the MINERVA-II1 program, and are designed to hop along the asteroid's surface, taking photographs and gathering data.
First image sent to Earth from Hayabusa 2 mission
Ryugu is a diamond-shaped asteroid which has a blackish-colored surface. It rotates on its axis around once every 7.5 hours. Because Ryugu is a primitive variety of asteroid its study could be significant. Hayabusa2 is scheduled to deploy a larger French-German rover for surface observation, called MASCOT, in October, and another tiny hopper next year. The main Hayabusa 2 vessel should near the surface in October, when it will shoot a tantalum 'bullet' into the asteroid so that it can catch particle samples and return them to Earth. Hayabusa-2 was launched in December 2014 to collect data that could help scientists gain knowledge on the formation of the Solar System and the origin of life. It’s mission is to send data collected from the rovers back to Japan's Aerospace Exploration Agency. It isn't expected to return home until December 2020.