For everyone living under the rock deep in the Mariana Trench, NASA is not the only organization into space exploration and neither was European Space Agency the only space probe that landed on a man-made on a roaming space object. If you have not yet heard, Japan’s NASA equivalent, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency or JAXA, has not one but two space robots landed on an asteroid named Rgyugu. Nope. Fortunately, that asteroid isn’t on a colliding path with our lovely Little Blue Marble and so no, renegade pro driller Harry Stamper and crew, aren’t onboard those bots. Neither is JAXA looking at dangling a skyscraper below it.
Anyways… it took Japan’s Hayabusa2 spacecraft three-and-a-half year in space to catch up with a traveling asteroid and dropped its MINERVA-II1 rovers, namely, Rover-1A and Rover-1B, on it. So, yeah, the duo ain’t no mere probes. They are actual rovers – the world’s first rovers to land on the surface of an asteroid. Even better still, they will be returning Earth. Yes. You heard that right. They are coming back, but not immediately. Rover-1A and Rover-1B are expected to return to base after collecting samples, in 2020. But why land bots on an asteroid? Well, it is all in the name of learning the composition and structure of the asteroid so mankind can learn the formation of Earth and possibly, the origins of the universe we live in.
Here’s the first video footage captured at 15 fps on September 23, 2018.
Rover-1B succeeded in shooting a movie on Ryugu’s surface! The movie has 15 frames captured on September 23, 2018 from 10:34 – 11:48 JST. Enjoy ‘standing’ on the surface of this asteroid! [6/6] pic.twitter.com/57avmjvdVa