Two rovers from JAXA (Japanese Space Agency) that are about the size of a box of biscuits are currently moving around the surface of Ryugu, an asteroid that is situated about 160 km from Earth. Following the first images which were sent by the two rovers, JAXA have now also released a short video which you can see below.
Before now, only the film Armageddon could allow us to imagine what it might look like to stand on the surface of an asteroid. But that was only a fiction, this, however is real! The Japanese Space Agency has sent a robot to land on the surface of an asteroid 160 million kilometers away from Earth which has managed to take some images and send them back to researchers. What’s more with social media, everyone is able to appreciate these amazing pictures. JAXA have recently shared these few shots taken from the surface. They show a dark and rugged terrain, illuminated by our star.
Rover-1B succeeded in shooting a movie on Ryugu’s surface! The movie has 15 frames captured on September 23, 2018 from 10:34 – 11:48 JST. Enjoy ‘standing’ on the surface of this asteroid! [6/6] pic.twitter.com/57avmjvdVa
— HAYABUSA2@JAXA (@haya2e_jaxa) September 27, 2018
These two small mobile exploration robots are the first to land on the surface of an asteroid. Taking advantage of the low gravity they are able to “jump” across the surface to carry out their work. Their main job is to observe the different soil characteristics of the asteroid. JAXA also plans to blow up a small part of the asteroid’s surface in order to collect rock and dust samples which, if all goes well, should be brought back to Earth in 2020.
These observations may help us to learn more about the history of our Solar System. The asteroid has evolved relatively little since the formation of the Solar System about 4.5 billion years ago.