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They’ve done it! Two robots have landed on an asteroid and even taken photographs

Image: JAXA

Last month, the Japanese probe Hayabusa2 successfully cast off two robots onto the Ryuga asteroid.  Although they are there to analyse the asteroid’s soil composition, they have, in the meantime, taken a few photographs.   

They’ve done it!  Two robots called Minerva-2 and Mascot (Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout) have successfully landed on the Ryuga asteroid. Japanese space agency (JAXA) officials stated in their press release that “Both rovers are functioning as normal and have started to study the surface of Ryuga.” The two machines will now make the most of the weak gravity and instead of driving along the uneven ground they will jump up to 2 metres from the surface.

The two robots have also taken some photos on their journey. These are some of the first snaps taken from the surface of an asteroid which is a shard of about 400 metres.

JAXA officials are now preparing the second phase of the mission in which they will blow up a small part of the asteroid’s surface. Rock and dust samples which could potentially be organic will then be collected and sent back to Earth for testing by 2020.  The following analysis could then help us further understand the creation of our Solar System and even “the origins of life on Earth,” explained JAXA.

Hayabusa 2
The pink square is where the Japanese probe Hayabusa 2 should have landed on the Ruyga asteroid. Image: JAXA

This asteroid is currently about 280 million kilometres from our planet.  The Japanese probe will have had to travel more than 3.2 billion kilometres to arrive at the asteroid.  This project is a real success for JAXA who hopes to embark on more arduous and far away missions in collaboration with NASA.  Not to rule out alien exploration for example…

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