Japanese rovers send back 1st VIDEO ever taken on an asteroid

Jan Cross
September 29, 2018

Japanese unmanned spacecraft Hayabusa2 released two small Minerva-II-1 rovers on the asteroid Ryugu on September 21.

Now, following the successful deployment of a pair of tiny rovers from Japan's Hayabusa-2 spacecraft, the first color images from an asteroid's surface have been sending back to Earth and boy are they creepy. Solar-powered internal rotors loft them in the asteroid's low gravity, allowing them to propel themselves across its surface to snap photographs and take temperature data.

JAXA explained some of the images were blurred "because the rover is spinning" as it approaches the asteroid.

Ryugu also has a weak gravitational field, so a standard rover would start floating into space as soon as it started moving.

Hayabusa 2 reached Ryugu in June after a three-and-a-half-year journey.

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An astronaut placed on the surface of Ryugu, could theoretically jump off the surface and float away into space.

"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", project manager Yuichi Tsuda said on the space agency's website.

The photos reveal new details of the surface of the space rock, which is known as Ryugu. The rovers will use their seven cameras to study Ryugu's estimated 3,020-foot (920-meter) surface, ultimately creating a 3D, composite image of the asteroid. It later will attempt to land on the asteroid itself to collect samples to send back to researchers on Earth. It's an incredibly cool image, but it's just the first of what JAXA hopes will be lots of snapshots of the asteroid, called Ryugu. The next stage will see the Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout (MASCOT) lander released onto the asteroid's surface.

The surface of asteroid Ryugu, taken from the Hayabusa2 spacecraft.

Japanese scientists are racing NASA for that achievement, with the U.S. agency's sample retrieval mission due to arrive back on Earth in 2023.

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