Wednesday, 17 October, 2018

Japan makes history by landing two space rovers on an asteroid

Of Rovers Landing On An Asteroid Are Stunning Of Rovers Landing On An Asteroid Are Stunning
Guillermo Lane | 27 September, 2018, 10:42

Japan's space agency has managed to surpass ESA's achievement of landing a craft on an asteroid by landing two rovers on another.

"The good news made me so happy", Hayabusa2 project spokesperson Takashi Kubota said. The two rovers are in good condition and are transmitting images and data.

"I can not find words to express how happy I am that we were able to realize mobile exploration on the surface of an asteroid".

The Hayabusa2 mission was launched in December 2014 and will return to Earth with its samples in 2020.

The team behind the expedition faced a nervous two-day wait for the Minerva-II rovers to send back information, but on Sunday, they confirmed the rovers landed.

Asteroids such as Ryugu are of such huge interest to scientists because they are made from the debris that was floating in the disc-shaped cloud of gas and dust known as the solar nebula, after the formation of the Sun.

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What will the rovers do on the asteroid surface? Because the asteroid has a low gravity, the rovers will basically be jumping around to heights of up to 15 meters (49 feet) and be able to stay in the air for as long as 15 minutes. Weighing around a kilo each, the rovers are equipped with wide-angle and stereo cameras. It shows the Hayabusa 2 on top and Ryugu's surface. From this crater, the probe will collect "fresh" materials unexposed to millennia of wind and radiation.

On 3 October, the Hayabusa2 mothership will deploy a ship called Mascot, which was developed in Europe by the German Aerospace Center and France's space agency, CNES, and analyse the samples remotely. The asteroid is named Ryugu, CNN reported. The asteroid's surface is known to be rougher than expected, as it has several boulders and barely any smooth places.

After days of gripping suspense, the two small rovers finally landed on the Ryugu asteroid - and they've even sent a few postcards back home.

MINERVA II mid-hop on asteroid Ryugu.

How can studying asteroids help solar system science?

It is assumed that Ryugu and similar drifting rocks are fragments from earlies years of the Solar System.

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