Hayabusa 2 spacecraft drops two probes on asteroid Ryugu: JAXA

22 Septembre, 2018, 21:43 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • An artist's rendering of the two miniature landers released by Hayabusa-2

Japan's Hayabusa 2 probe has released its two miniature robotic landers toward the target asteroid Ryugu.

Though the Hayabusa2 team calls them rovers, these little guys will hop rather than roll from place to place on Ryugu's surface, gathering a variety of data along the way. Unfortunately, JAXA engineers will need to wait a couple of days to receive confirmation that the rovers are ready to perform their scientific duties.

This computer graphics image provided by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) shows an asteroid and asteroid explorer Hayabusa2.

The two robots will capture images of the asteroid and measure temperatures before a larger rover is released in early October.

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The Japanese space explorer that will try to blow a crater in an asteroid and bring back samples from inside is nearing its destination after a 3 1/2 -year journey.

"This is probably due to the rotation to Ryugu, and MINERVA-II1 is now on the far side of the asteroid", JAXA officials said.

The pair of cylindrical Minerva-II rovers were basically flung off the Japanese Space Agency's Hayabusa-2 spacecraft on Thursday.

Taking advantage of the asteroid's low gravity, they will jump around on the surface - soaring as high as 15 meters and staying in the air for as long as 15 minutes - to survey the asteroid's physical features with cameras and sensors. "The mother ship itself will also make several forays to the surface in 2019, to grab asteroid material that will be returned to Earth in December 2020".

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