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Space hoppers hitch ride on an asteroid
25 September 2018, 01:20 | Justin Tyler
From Asteroid Landing Back to EarthA feat years in the making
Space agency officials explained that when the front of the drum was jettisoned into space, the two rovers would be ejected from the container and fall independently to the asteroid's surface.
The first-ever landing by a roving explorer on an asteroid means redemption for the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, which failed on a similar mission in 2005. "I want to see images of space as seen from the surface of the asteroid", stated the JAXA project manager Yuichi Tsuda in an interview.
The asteroid's low gravity means they can hop across it, capturing temperatures and images of the surface. For example, it's hard to stick a landing on a body with such a slight gravitational pull, as the experience of the European Space Agency's Rosetta mission shows.
CBS News reports the Hayabusa2 space probe recently arrived to an asteroid known as 162173 Ryugu, where it dropped two landers created to hop around on the surface of the celestial object as it barrels through space, after being launched nearly four years ago.
Then, the rovers shared some pictures, including these two. During this period, the rover will analyze the hole made and collect samples that will be picked up by Hayabusa2 which is expected to land on the surface at the end of October next year.
Hayabusa2 began its journey on December 3, 2014, and actually had to travel 3.2 billion kilometres to make the rendezvous.
The Ryugu asteroid is a small diamond-shaped c-type asteroid which looks desolated n its surface, however, it is believed to have a trove of the treasure of primitive organic substances as well as minerals and much more. "This is just a real charm of deep space exploration", said Takashi Kubota, a spokesman for the space agency. The rovers came from the spacecraft Hayabusa2.
An artist's impression of the MINERVA-II1 landers deployed by Japan's Hayabusa2 spacecraft.
Hayabusa2's mission will be completed when it returns to earth in 2020 with the samples of rocks it has collected from Ryugu, which is thought to contain water and other materials that could possibly support life.
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