Japan's Hayabusa2 probe, which has been circling the 3,000-foot-wide (900 meters) asteroid Ryugu since late June, deployed two little "rovers" called MINERVA-II1A and MINERVA-II1B around midnight (0400 GMT) this morning (Sept. 21).
JAPAN'S Hayabusa 2 spacecraft has lowered two small rovers onto an asteroid in an epic history making mission to study the distant space rock. However, it is blurred because the shot was taken while the rover was rotating.
If successful, JAXA has said it will be the "world's first sample return mission to a C-type asteroid".
Hayabusa2 also has a French-German vehicle that should land on the asteroid to observe its surface - Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout (MASCOT). After the rovers were on their way, the spacecraft raised itself back up to its typical altitude of about 12.5 miles above the asteroid's surface (20 kilometers).
The next step will be in October when Hayabusa2 will send an "impactor that will blast a crater into the asteroid to get some "fresh" materials unexposed to wind and radiation".
And now JAXA, the Japanese Space Agency, has landed two rovers on a goddamn asteroid.
Japan's space agency said on Saturday the rovers had landed.
"Correspondence with MINERVA-II1 has presently halted", JAXA composed on Twitter. The image taken by MINERVA-II1 during a hop allowed me to relax as a dream of many years came true. "This is just a real charm of deep space exploration", Takashi Kubota, a spokesman for the space agency, told CNN. Around autmun next year, Hayabusa2 will fire a 2kg copper "collision device" at Ryugu, attempting to blow a small crater in the surface.
The main spacecraft will collect a sample to bring to Earth for laboratory analysis. It returned, about 1,500 grains of rock, from the surface of the asteroid.