Science

Photos from Japanese space rovers show asteroid is … rocky

Photos from Japanese space rovers show asteroid is … rocky”

A handout photo taken by Hayabusa2's Rover-1A shows the surface of asteroid Ryugu.

The surface of asteroid Ryugu, taken from the Hayabusa2 spacecraft.

Ryugu also has a weak gravitational field, so a standard rover would start floating into space as soon as it started moving.

Jaxa also posted the highest resolution photographs to date of Ryugu's surface, taken with Hayabusa2's onboard camera as it approached the asteroid in preparation to release the rovers.

The rovers don't have wheels but jump around the asteroid. The lander has enough power for a 12-hour mission, in which it will analyze the asteroid's surface at two different sites.

Asteroids like Ryugu, which orbits between Mars and Earth, are hot research commodities. And thanks to advanced accelerometers, optical sensors and gyroscopes, they operate completely autonomously. "The rover is expected to remain in the air for up to 15 minutes after a single hop before landing, and to move up to 15 m (50 feet) horizontally". Their tiny bodies, which measure just 7 inches (18 centimeters) in diameter, are equipped with high-powered, asteroid-probing instruments.

A Japanese space robot has filmed vision from the surface of an asteroid, beaming a time-lapse video of a "day" on the space rock back to earth.

Rover 1B snapped this picture of Ryugu's rocky terrain shortly after its arrival. Variations in temperature will help shed light about its physical properties and its possible makeup of elements.

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.

The rovers were stored within a container called MINERVA-II1.

One story features a fisherman who visited Ryugu and brought back "a box with a secret" - which is exactly what scientists hope will happen when Hayabusa2 returns.



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