II1 robots sent to space by Japan's Hayabusa-2 reach asteroid

Pablo Tucker
September 25, 2018

During this period, the rover will analyze the hole made and collect samples that will be picked up by Hayabusa2 which is expected to land on the surface at the end of October next year.

Image copyright JAXA, Uni Tokyo & collaboratorsImage caption Hayabusa-2 arrived at the asteroid 162173 Ryugu in June How did the rovers reach the asteroid?

"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", said Yuichi Tsuda, project manager for the Hayabusa2 probe. The colored blur at the top left is due to the reflection of sunlight when the image was taken. The main probe could make up to three landings during its mission, JAXA has said.

The asteroid's low gravity means they can hop across it, capturing temperatures and images of the surface.

If it works, Hayabusa2 itself can descend to the surface of Ryugu to analyse the underground makeup of the asteroid, and collect some samples to bring home.

"We are sorry we have kept you waiting!" "Both rovers are in good condition, they are sending photographs and various data taken", JAXA said. It was provided by the German and French space agencies and is equipped with a camera, an infrared spectrometer, a magnetometer and a radiometer. A fourth lander is slated for deployment some time next year.

The JAEA confirmed the landings in Saturday, with the first photos sent back from the rovers.

Then, the rovers shared some pictures, including these two.

Expressing his joy over the success of the project, Takashi Kubota, a spokesman for the space agency, said that he felt awed by the achievement and that it is a real charm of deep space exploration. MINERVA-II1 is therefore "the world's first man-made object to explore movement on an asteroid surface".

According to the agency, the 600-kg Hayabusa2, which was launched from the Tanegashima Space Center in southwestern Japan in December 2014, has experienced no problems throughout its journey totaling 3.2 billion km.

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