Japan successfully lands robot rovers on asteroids surface

Hayabusa 2 test drops

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has reason to celebrate after successfully deploying a pair of robots on the surface of an asteroid.

The asteroid is believed to contain organic substances and hydrated minerals, and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency hopes the readings will shed further light on the origin and evolution of the solar system.

They will also measure the surface temperature ahead of Hayabusa2's own landing late next month.

The cautious announcement came after a similar JAXA probe in 2005 released a rover which failed to reach its target asteroid. However, it is blurred because the shot was taken while the rover was rotating.

The successful landings of the first two rovers "made me so happy", said Takashi Kubota, a spokesman for the project.

A third lander is scheduled to be released October 3.

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Hayabusa, approaching just 55 meters on Friday to release the rover on the asteroid's surface, has now moved away about 20 kilometers from him, waiting for the next steps of the mission.

"We're glad that the Minerva-II 1 rovers took photos as we had expected", said Tetsuo Yoshimitsu, associate professor at JAXA.

The rovers are part of the MINERVA-II1 program, and are created to hop along the asteroid's surface, taking photographs and gathering data.

The spacecraft is set to release a German-French lander called MASCOT carrying four observation devices in early October and a bigger rover called Minerva-II-2 next year. "The mother delivers itself will likewise make a few attacks to the surface in 2019, to snatch space rock material that will become back to Earth in December 2020". Around autmun next year, Hayabusa2 will fire a 2kg copper "collision device" at Ryugu, attempting to blow a small crater in the surface.

These samples will be sent to Earth for laboratory studies. Animense one of them at a time ruhsa surface asteroid, pichet Agency. It is a follow-on to the Hayabusa mission that returned 1,500 grams of asteroid Itokawa in 2010.

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