Japan Successfully Lands 2 Rovers on Surface of Asteroid Ryugu

After a four-year journey, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA) Hayabusa2 has successfully landed two rovers on the surface of carbonaceous near-Earth asteroid 162173 Ryugu.

The historic moment occurred on Friday when the MINERVA-II1 made a successful landing on the surface of Ryugu and deployed two small rovers called Rover-1A and Rover-1B, according to the mission’s official website.

This mission was the first-ever to deploy a rover and land on an asteroid as well as the “world’s first man-made object to explore movement on an asteroid surface” and take pictures of the asteroid’s surface.

After their deployment, the rovers sent pictures of the two compact mobile exploration robots back to Earth for everyone to see.

I felt awed by what we had achieved in Japan. This is just a real charm of deep space exploration,” said Takashi Kubota, a spokesman for the space agency, CNN reported.

The Hayabusa2 spacecraft approached the 1-kilometer (3,280-feet) wide space rock around Thursday afternoon at the orbiting altitude of about 20 kilometers (12.4 miles). It sent a photo back to Earth as the spacecraft descended around 100 meters (328 feet) on the asteroid.

The rovers will remain on Ryugu to take samples and examine the space rock until December 2019 before Hayabusa2 departs the diamond-shaped asteroid to make its return to Earth sometime in 2020 bringing along the cargo from the expedition.

Scientists believe that the space rock may contain valuable data underneath its surface — information regarding the formation of the solar system billions of years ago.

In late October, Hayabusa2 is set to launch the third rover called MASCOT. During this phase of the mission, the spacecraft will reportedly detonate explosives on the asteroid to create a small crater so the rovers can take further samples.

Featured Images via Twitter / haya2e_jaxa

Support our Journalism with a Contribution

Many people might not know this, but despite our large and loyal following which we are immensely grateful for, NextShark is still a small bootstrapped startup that runs on no outside funding or loans.

Everything you see today is built on the backs of warriors who have sacrificed opportunities to help give Asians all over the world a bigger voice.

However, we still face many trials and tribulations in our industry, from figuring out the most sustainable business model for independent media companies to facing the current COVID-19 pandemic decimating advertising revenues across the board.

We hope you consider making a contribution so we can continue to provide you with quality content that informs, educates and inspires the Asian community. Even a $1 contribution goes a long way. Thank you for everyone’s support. We love you all and can’t appreciate you guys enough.

NextShark is a leading source covering Asian American News and Asian News including business, culture, entertainment, politics, tech and lifestyle.

For advertising and inquiries: info@nextshark.com