Tuesday, 23 October, 2018

Japan successfully lands robot rovers on asteroid's surface

Rover-1A lands on the asteroid surface right Image Rover-1A on the right lands on the asteroid's surface
Elijah Vega | 24 September, 2018, 18:19

The rovers move by "hopping" up to 15 metres (50 feet) at a time because the extremely weak gravity on the asteroid makes rolling hard.

Although the European Space Agency has managed to land a craft on a comet, this is the first time anyone has been able to land on the surface of an asteroid.

Yuichi Tsuda, Hayabusa2 project manager said: "I can not find words to express how happy I am that we were able to realise mobile exploration on the surface of an asteroid".

The MINERVA-II1 with two rovers was launched from Japan's Hayabusa 2 probe, and landed on the surface of asteroid Ryugu. It's been staying close to the space rock since then, conducting exploratory activities and surveying the asteroid for sample collection prior to the weekend's rover deployment.

In a remarkable feat of scientific endeavor, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has successfully landed two small rovers on the surface of an asteroid hundreds of millions of miles from Earth.

By studying the formation and structure of Ryugu, scientists may be able to learn more about the origins of the universe and the formation of our own planet. "Both rovers are in good condition, they are sending photographs and various data taken", JAXA said.

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The probe will also release a French-German landing vehicle named the mobile asteroid surface scout (MASCOT) for surface observation.

The rovers are also equipped with temperature gauges and optical sensors as well as an accelerometer and a set of gyroscopes. By the end of next year, the spacecraft is expected to begin its return journey to Earth with a cache of samples collected from Ryugu.

Yuichi Tsuda, Hayabusa2 project manager said: "I can not find words to express how happy I am that we were able to realise mobile exploration on the surface of an asteroid".

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

It was launched in 2014 and is due to return to Earth by 2020.

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