JAXA confirms 2 rovers landed successfully on asteroid RyuguBy Eddie Irizarry in Space | September 22, 2018
Japan’s space agency JAXA said the pair of tiny robots – released by the Hayabusa2 space probe – touched down Saturday on asteroid Ryugu. See the images here.
This amazing photo was captured by Rover 1A as it was bouncing or hopping over the surface of asteroid Ryugu on September 22, 2018. The bright white region is due to sunlight, while the blue area is a distortion, also caused by sunlight. Image via JAXA/Hayabusa2.
JAXA, Japan’s space agency, said on Saturday, September 22, 2018, that two rovers released by its Hayabusa2 spaceraft have set down successfully on asteroid Ryugu, hundreds of millions of miles from Earth. The spacecraft traveled for four years before encountering Ryugu. JAXA has now released images taken by the rovers as they were ejected from the mother spacecraft, as well as other images captured as one of the probes bounced or hopped on the asteroid’s surface. JAXA said:
Both rovers are confirmed to have landed on the surface of Ryugu. They are in good condition and have transmitted photos and data. We also confirmed they are moving on the surface.
Rover-1B acquired this image on September 21, shortly after separation from the spacecraft. The photo shows the surface of asteroid Ryugus as seen from about 180 feet (55 m). The misty top left region is due to the reflection of sunlight. Image via JAXA/Hayabusa2.
Ryugu is a space rock with a diameter of less than a mile (about 1 km) and classified as a potentially hazardous asteroid, with an orbit that occasionally brings it into Earth’s vicinity. The encounter and release of the small rovers occurred early on September 21 at a distance of 194 million miles (313 million km) from Earth.
The distance is so huge, that images sent by the Hayabusa2 spacecraft and its rovers take some 35 minutes to reach our planet.
This spectacular photo shows asteroid Ryugu as well as the spacecraft shadow visible on the surface, as Hayabusa 2 was descending on September 21, 2018, to release the pair of rovers. The image was taken from about 443 feet (135 meters) from the space rock. Image via JAXA/Hayabusa2.
Hayabusa2 arrived at asteroid Ryugu on June 27, 2018. Afterwards, for several weeks, the spacecraft remained at a distance of about 12 miles (20 km) above the asteroid. During the week of July 16, operations were begun to lower this hovering altitude, eventually bringing the spacecraft to less than 4 miles (6 km) from the asteroid surface.
According to JAXA, the rovers were released from an altitude of about 180 ft (55m).
Small rovers (MINERVA-II) via JAXA.
The MINERVA-II rovers look more like cylinders or robotic wheels, and use capacitors and small solar cells for power.
Although the mission will measure Ryugu’s gravity, it is estimated to be some 60,000 times weaker than Earth’s gravity. This means that instead of roving over the surface of Ryugu, the rovers will be hopping and rotating over the surface, which is a wise design for exploring the huge asteroid despite its weak gravity.
Although this image is blurred because the rover was spinning, Hayabusa2 is seen above asteroid Ryugu on this photo taken by rover 1A shortly after it separated from its mother spacecraft (Hayabusa2), on September 21, 2018. Image via JAXA/Hayabusa2.
Each rover measures about 7 inches (18 cm) in diameter and has a pair of cameras and a thermometer among its instruments.
On October, 2018, the Hayabusa2 spacecraft will release Mascot, a lander built by the space agencies of France and Germany. Mascot will also land on the surface of Ryugu.
The Hayabusa2 spacecraft was launched on 2014, and arrived at the huge asteroid after travelling some 2,000 million miles (3,200 million km). The spacecraft will be studying Ryugu until December, 2020, when it is expected to start traveling back to Earth with collected samples from the asteroid surface, to be analyzed by scientists in laboratories.
Bottom line: Japan’s space agency JAXA confimed on Saturday, September 22, that two rovers released Friday from the Hayabusa2 spacecraft have set down successfully on asteroid Ryugu. See the images here.
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Thanks to: http://earthsky.org