Japanese robots land on asteroid, send back pictures!
The MINERVA-II-1A rover captured this blurred image Saturday at 0244 GMT (10:44 p.m. EDT Friday) showing asteroid Ryugu as the robot hopped across its surface. The bright feature on the right side of the image was caused by sunlight. Credit: JAXA
A pair of tiny automated robots touched down on asteroid Ryugu on Friday after separating from Japan’s Hayabusa 2 spacecraft, sending back pictures as the probes bounced across the asteroid’s alien landscape nearly 200 million miles from Earth.
The miniature rovers, each smaller than the diameter of a typical dinner plate, were released from the Hayabusa 2 spacecraft Friday as the spacecraft descended within 200 feet (as close as 55 meters) from Ryugu.
“The good news made me so happy,” said Takashi Kubota, a spokesperson for the Hayabusa 2 mission. “The image taken by MINERVA-II-1 during a hop allowed me to relax as a dream of many years came true. I felt awed by what we had achieved in Japan. This is just a real charm of deep space exploration.”