The rovers were blasted into space aboard the Hayabusa2 spacecraft, successfully landing on Ryugu on September 21. Solar-powered internal rotors loft them in the asteroid's low gravity, allowing them to propel themselves across its surface to snap photographs and take temperature data.
Now, following the successful deployment of a pair of tiny rovers from Japan's Hayabusa-2 spacecraft, the first color images from an asteroid's surface have been sending back to Earth and boy are they creepy.
JAXA also revealed a series of other images captured by the Minerva-II1 rovers, as well as the news that Rover-1B hopped across Ryugu's surface. They began exploring the surface, snapping pictures and taking videos, giving us a long-awaited ground-level view of an asteroid. The container was launched from the spacecraft Hayabusa2 last week and that spacecraft is now orbiting the asteroid.
Having already sent back some stunning photos from Ryugu's surface, JAXA has now surpassed this feat with the release of the first colour movie ever made on the surface of an asteroid. Given the asteroid's rough terrain, it would be pretty hard for them to navigate with wheels and crawlers like traditional landers do.
If that wasn't awe-inspiring enough, Jaxa has just released not only more images, but even a small video from Ryugu's surface, and all their footage is mind-meltingly wonderful. However, the first Hayabusa failed to land its hopper, the original MINERVA, on the surface of the asteroid Itokawa more than a decade ago. In about a week or so, the duo will be joined by the MASCOT lander, who will use an infrared microscope and wide-angle camera to record Ryugu's structural, compositional and surface characteristics, and also document how well it holds onto heat and what its magnetic properties looks like. Later that month, the original Hayabusa2 craft will descend on Ryugu and do what has never been done before: return a sample to Earth.
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