Rover 1A Hops on Asteroid Ryugu

27 September, 2018, 10:40 | Author: Marie Harrington
  • Of Rovers Landing On An Asteroid Are Stunning

The dusty, rocky surface of the asteroid is in full view, as is a distorted blob of light that is actually the distant Sun.

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.

Next month Hayabusa2 will deploy an impactor which will explode above the asteroid, to blast a crater into its surface.

It has taken over three and a half years for the spacecraft Hayabusa2 to make its 319 million kilometre journey to the asteroid Ryugu.

One picture from the surface is blurred as it was taken mid-jump.

"I am so proud that we have established a new method of space exploration for small celestial bodies", said JAXA project manager Yuichi Tsuda. The two rovers are in good condition and are transmitting images and data. The rovers, each the size of a small frying pan, move around the low gravity of kilometer-sized 162173 Ryugu by hopping, staying aloft for about 15 minutes and typically landing again several meters away. Its mission: to "study the origin and evolution of the solar system as well as materials for life".

This mission was the first-ever to deploy a rover and land on an asteroid as well as the "world's first man-made object to explore movement on an asteroid surface" and take pictures of the asteroid's surface.

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"We affirmed that both flying machines arrived on the surface of the space rock ryugu".

Once the spacecraft reaches the surface, it will fire a bullet at great speed into Ryugu, with the resulting blasted particles being collected by a catcher.

The Minerva-II1 robots measure just 18 cm by 7 cm and weigh approximately one kg.

This milestone for Japan is a landmark event in the history of Space Exploration and gives Japan the honor of being the world's first country to achieve observation of an asteroid via robots.

The Hayabusa2 is likewise planned to send a greater lander called MASCOT in October, following the fruitful landing.

The mission objective is to send data and collect samples and bring them back by 2020.

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