Japan's 2 hopping rovers successfully land on asteroid Ryugu


The twin MINERVA-II1 rovers, A and B, landed yesterday after being released from the Hayabusa2 spacecraft about 60 meters (~200 feet) above the surface.

The first-ever landing by a roving explorer on an asteroid means redemption for the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, which failed on a similar mission in 2005.

You'll be waiting a while for the samples to return.

A flood of imagery followed as the two hopping rovers - yes, they get around by hopping - set about their important task.

The achievement marks the first time when rovers capable of maneuvering around the surface of a body, especially one as small as Ryugu, have been successfully placed on an asteroid.

"The two rovers are in good condition and are transmitting images and data", it said in a statement.

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It also has steadily ramped up pressure on Iran to try to get it to stop what Washington calls "malign activities" in the region. It answers to Ayatollah Khamenei and has an estimated 125,000-strong military with army, navy and air units.

They will also measure the surface temperature ahead of Hayabusa2's own landing late next month.

Weighing some 0.6 metric tons, the Hayabusa 2 spacecraft was launched on December 3, 2014 by JAXA on mission to explore asteroid Ryugu, retrieve materials from it and bring them to Earth. This is probably due to the rotation to Ryugu, and MINERVA-II1 is now on the far side of the asteroid. However, it is blurred because the shot was taken while the rover was rotating. To reach its target, the spacecraft carried out a gravity-assist flyby of Earth in December 2015, putting the probe on course for arrival at Ryugu last June. Rover-1A is on the left and Rover-1B is on the right.

Ryugu is a particularly primitive variety, and studying it could shed light on the origin and evolution of our own planet.

In early October, the orbiter will deploy a bigger lander, called the Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout (MASCOT).

The robots touched down on the asteroid on Saturday after which, the spacecraft was lifted to an altitude of 12.5 miles or 20 kilometers.

The little hoppers are stored in a drum-shaped container at the base of the "mothership".