Japan Lands 2 Robot Rovers on Asteroid Surface

24 Septembre, 2018, 18:23 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • Japanese space agency lands rovers on asteroid

While they contain scientific instruments including cameras, thermometers, and accelerometers, one goal of the rovers (which use torque generated by rotating internal components instead of wheels) is simply to act as a proof of concept for low-gravity environmental exploration.

Two tiny robots dispatched to the surface of an asteroid from a Japanese spacecraft have sent home their first photos.

Japanese space agency JAXA has claimed that it created history on Saturday by successfully landing two unmanned rovers on an asteroid.

Japan's space agency, JAXA, launched the rovers on the Hayabusa2, and they released from the craft on 21 September.

Images sent back by the rovers show the asteroid's gravelly, rocky surface, and some are blurry because the robot that took them was "hopping" at the time. It's been staying close to the space rock since then, conducting exploratory activities and surveying the asteroid for sample collection prior to the weekend's rover deployment.

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Hayabusa-2 reached the asteroid, which was left over from the early days of our Solar System, but the rovers have only just been deployed. "Analysis of this information confirmed that at least one of the rovers is moving on the asteroid surface".

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.

'I am proud that Hayabusa2 was able to contribute to the creation of this technology for a new method of space exploration by surface movement on small bodies'.

Next month Hayabusa2 will deploy an impactor which will explode above the asteroid, to blast a crater into its surface. This will help Hayabusa-2 to gather rock samples that haven't been directly exposed to the environment of space, providing "fresh" material for scientists to study.

After examining the far distant object and taking samples, Hayabusa2 will depart Ryugu in December 2019 before returning to Earth by the end of 2020 with its cargo of samples.

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