ibusinesslines.com November 15, 2018

Japanese Mission Becomes first to Land Rovers on Asteroid

30 September 2018, 03:24 | Justin Tyler

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They are actually better than the very first images, primarily due to their clarity - Yes, the images show a dry, rocky object with plenty of rubble littering its surface, and then you have to stop and remember it is an image of a space object 180 million miles (290 million kilometers) from Earth.

Part of a collection of media released by the agency, the video shows the rocky surface of the asteroid and the sun moving across the sky, as seen from the asteroid.

Having already sent back some stunning photos from Ryugu's surface, JAXA has now surpassed this feat with the release of the first colour movie ever made on the surface of an asteroid.

The Hayabusa2 mothership deployed the small probes late last week as it dropped to just 55 metres above the surface, later pulling up to a higher orbit. The movie has 15 frames captured on September 23, 2018 from 10:34 - 11:48 JST. Spine-like projections from the edges of the hoppers are sensors that will measure surface temperatures on the asteroid.

The asteroid is 160 million km far from Earth. In 2005, the mission's predecessor, Hayabusa, landed on the surface of a smaller asteroid, called Itokawa, and collected a sample that it later returned to Earth.

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A series of photos taken by the same rover that captured the video confirms a "hop" by the robot, according to the Japanese team, which is a big deal for them.

JAXA scientists reported their joy at the rovers' success.

"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.

Rover 1A takes a picture Ryugu's surface (left) and the reflection of sunlight (right) during one of its first hops across the asteroid. Developed by the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in cooperation with the French Space Agency (CNES) MASCOT has enough power for a 12-hour mission, in which it will analyse the asteroid's surface at two different sites.

That will enable the spacecraft to make brief touch-and-go landings to collect "fresh" samples of materials that have been protected from millennia of wind and radiation and which may offer clues as to the origins of life on Earth.

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