Japanese spacecraft sends rovers towards asteroid Ryugu

Japan Becomes First Country To Land On An Asteroid As TIE-Fighter-Shaped Hyabusa2 Space Probe Unleashes Tiny Rovers Onto Ryugu In Historic First

"Undocking MINERVA-II1 confirmed! State of the spacecraft is normal", - said representatives of JAXA on Twitter as soon as the Rover was released from the probe. "We are now working to confirm if there are images capturing the MINERVA-II1 landing". Being isolated on the far side is just a temporary setback, however.

The explorers, developed by institutes such as JAXA and the University of Aizu, are 18 centimeters in diameter and 7 centimeters in height.

Japan's Hayabusa 2 probe began the climactic phase of its mission overnight by sending out its first two rovers as it hovered less than 200 feet over an half-mile-wide asteroid, more than 180 million miles from Earth.

A third rover, MASCOT, will be launched from Hayabusa-2 in early October.

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At the end of August, Japanese space agency JAXA announced when it would attempt to deploy a pair of very special rovers to the surface the asteroid known as Ryugu.

The two little disk-shaped robots that will soon separate from the orbiter are called MINERVA-II1A and MINERVA-II1B.

The target touchdown site for NEAR (yellow circle) landing on asteroid Eros in 2001. In addition to JAXA's investigation of Ryugu, NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is now closing in on the asteroid Bennu for a similar sample-collecting mission. And all the world knows about the only mission that has ever executed a soft landing on a comet. And only one mission was able to make a soft landing on a comet: space station ESA "Rosetta" flat lander "Phil" on the comet 67P/Churyumov - Gerasimenko. This method of movement is chosen because of the extremely weak gravity of the asteroid is 60 thousand times weaker than on Earth. And about that "II" business: A MINERVA hopper flew aboard the original Hayabusa mission, which arrived at the asteroid Itokawa in 2005.

"Therefore, this hopping mechanism was adopted for moving across the surface of such small celestial bodies. The rover is expected to remain in the air for up to 15 minutes after a single hop before landing, and to move up to 15 m (50 feet) horizontally".


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