Japan’s space agency on Thursday released new images from the robot rovers it deployed to the surface of a moving asteroid, reported The Guardian. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency also released a 15-frame clip showing the surface of asteroid Ryugu.
The Hayabusa 2 mission was launched in December 2014 and took three-and-a-half years to arrive at Ryugu, 280 million km from Earth. On September 21, the unmanned spacecraft lowered the two rovers about 60 metres on the asteroid’s surface. Called Rover 1A and Rover 1B and weighing a kilogram each, they resemble round biscuit tins and have since beamed back high-resolution images from the ragged Ryugu surface, said the space agency.
Next month, the spacecraft will deploy a device that will explode above the asteroid and shoot a copper missile in order to create a small crater on its surface. This will help the spacecraft collect fresh samples of materials embedded within the asteroid’s surface.
Hayabusa 2 is scheduled to return to the Earth in 2020 with the samples.