Japan landed two rovers on an asteroid’s surface after four years


It’s just like the movie Armageddon, but without the apocalypse scenario.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has reason to celebrate after successfully deploying a pair of robots on the surface of an asteroid. The mission, which played out on Friday, aims to gather photos and data from the asteroid called Ryugu.

The mission’s success — marking the end of a four-year journey — was confirmed in a tweet on Saturday from JAXA’s account for the Hayabusa2 asteroid explorer.

A flood of imagery followed as the two hopping rovers — yes, they get around by hopping — set about their important task. 

You can keep up with the status of Hayabusa2’s mission on JAXA’s English-language website right here. There’s also a post from JAXA discussing the mission here.

As JAXA notes, MINERVA-II1 “is the world’s first rover (mobile exploration robot) to land on the surface of an asteroid. This is also the first time for autonomous movement and picture capture on an asteroid surface.”

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