The Japanese Space Agency (JAXA) has successfully landed two rovers on asteroid Ryugu. Giving us a glimpse into what the asteroidal surface looks like the robots have sent the first set of photographs from the asteroid.
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The space agency took to micro blogging website Twitter to share the pictures. JAXA tweeted that the rovers are in good condition and moving on the surface.
We are sorry we have kept you waiting! MINERVA-II1 consists of two rovers, 1a & 1b. 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. #asteroidlanding— HAYABUSA2@JAXA (@haya2e_jaxa) September 22, 2018
One of the picture was captured right after separation of the rover from the spacecraft. It shows the Hayabusa 2 on top and Ryugu's surface. A second image more clearly shows the asteroid with a slightly rocky surface.
MINERVA-II1: Here are the pictures
This is a picture from MINERVA-II1. The color photo was captured by Rover-1A on September 21 around 13:08 JST, immediately after separation from the spacecraft. Hayabusa2 is top and Ryugu's surface is below. The image is blurred because the rover is spinning. #asteroidlanding pic.twitter.com/CeeI5ZjgmM— HAYABUSA2@JAXA (@haya2e_jaxa) September 22, 2018
This dynamic photo was captured by Rover-1A on September 22 at around 11:44 JST. It was taken on Ryugu's surface during a hop. The left-half is the surface of Ryugu, while the white region on the right is due to sunlight. (Hayabusa2 Project) pic.twitter.com/IQLsFd4gJu
— HAYABUSA2@JAXA (@haya2e_jaxa) September 22, 2018
Hayabusa2 is all set to attempt three brief touch-and-go landings on the asteroid to collect samples in hopes of providing clues to the origin of the solar system and life on Earth. Since it arrived at Ryugu, scientists have been looking for suitable landing sites on the uneven surface, and its first attempt is expected in October.
The spacecraft is set to release a German-French lander called MASCOT carrying four observation devices in early October and a bigger rover called Minerva-II-2 next year. Hayabusa2, launched in December 2014, is due to return to Earth in late 2020.