Published: Fri, September 28, 2018
Sci-tech | By Carrie Guzman

New asteroid rover images released

New asteroid rover images released

While just the first two rovers have been deployed to the space rock's surface, the Hayabusa-2 orbiter still has a pair of rovers on board that it will deploy at a later date.

Images on the mission's Twitter account show a mixture of boulders and relatively smooth patches on the surface of Ryugu asteroid, framed by a black sky.

Two MINERVA-II1 rovers were deployed explore the surface of asteroid Ryugu as it hurtles through space as part of a Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) mission.

JAXA also released a high-res photo of the asteroid's surface taken as Hayabusa descended to the surface to unload Rover-1A and 1-B.

The first rovers to hop around an asteroid's surface have continued to send back pictures of their travels - and so has the main spacecraft, which is keeping watch dozens of miles above them.

The deployed rovers are placed into a unusual world where the surface gravity on Ryugu is only 1/80,000th the gravity of the Earth.

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"I can not find words to express how happy I am that we were able to realize mobile exploration on the surface of an asteroid" enthused Yuichi Tsuda, Hayabusa2 Project Project Manager, "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".

"Therefore, this hopping mechanism was adopted for moving across the surface of such small celestial bodies".

We've seen plenty of photos taken from the surface of places other than Earth.

Hayabusa2 is scheduled to drop a German-French lander with four observation devices onto the asteroid next week.

Hayabusa2 Project spokesperson Takashi Kubota said the mission was "a dream of many years [which] came true".

Comprising 15 frames, the footage was captured on 23 September, revealing what it might be like to stand on the surface of an asteroid. It later will attempt to land on the asteroid itself to collect samples to send back to researchers on Earth.

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