Japan space probe drops hopping rovers toward Ryugu asteroid

They Made It! Japan's Two Hopping Rovers Successfully Land on Asteroid Ryugu

Rovers from Hayabusa2 land on asteroid

The confirmation was received after an apparently hectic descent for operators of "Hayabusa-2". These rovers will bring back asteroid samples to Earth.

After a 3.2 billion-kilometer journey, the Hayabusa-2 asteroid-sampling space probe stabilized in June in orbit around Ryugu, a space rock which is now about 280 million kilometers from our planet.

If successful, it will be the world's first observation of the surface of an asteroid by a moving rover. And about that "II" business: A MINERVA hopper flew aboard the original Hayabusa mission, which arrived at the asteroid Itokawa in 2005.

The Hayabusa2 mother ship has already begun descending toward Ryugu in advance of the deployment, and the spacecraft is snapping photos of the asteroid for navigation purposes. These rovers are hexagonal in shape and measure 7 inches wide.

After successfully deploying the first two of its three rovers, the small robots will take readings and conduct experiments. They have been created to "hop" along the surface of the asteroid as its low gravity would complicate the traditional way such robotic explorers usually roll on wheels or tracks.

"There are four cameras on Rover-1A and three cameras on Rover-1B".

JAXA did lose contact due to asteroid Ryugu's rotation before they could confirm any images from the landing itself. The rovers are also equipped with temperature gauges, optical sensors as well as an accelerometer and a set of gyroscopes.

The "Hayabusa2" probe jettisoned the round, cookie tin-shaped robots toward the Ryugu astroid, according to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

"The rovers communicate with Hayabusa2 using the repeater (OME-E) installed on the main spacecraft". Eventually the Hayabusa-2 mission will see the spacecraft return actual asteroid samples to Earth, but that won't take place until 2020. By the way, "MASCOT" stands for "Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout". It is a "C-type" asteroid which is the most common class of asteroids.

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