These History-Making Photos Of Rovers Landing On An Asteroid Are Stunning

Japan Lands Robot Rovers On Asteroid To Collect Solar System Data

Japan's Hayabusa2 Spacecraft Successfully Deploys Landers To Asteroid Ryugu's Surface

The probe is one of two that landed on Ryugu from the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency's Hayabusa2 spacecraft. The two drones will be collecting samples and data from above and below the surface of Ryugu until their scheduled return to Earth in 2020.

Scientists have been working to find a suitable landing space on the asteroid's rough surface since the orbiter arrived. "I felt awed by what we had achieved in Japan".

Japan's space agency workers can now breathe easy.

The team behind the expedition faced a nervous two-day wait for the Minerva-II rovers to send back information, but on Sunday, they confirmed the rovers landed. The giant asteroid's official designation is 162173 Ryugu.

An artist's illustration of Rover-1A (back) and Rover-1B (foreground) from MINERVA-II1 as they explore the surface of Ryugu.

The probe will also release a French-German landing vehicle named the mobile asteroid surface scout (MASCOT) for surface observation.

They soar as high as 15 metres and float in the air for as long as 15 minutes - to survey the asteroid's physical features. Weighing around a kilo each, the rovers are equipped with wide-angle and stereo cameras.

Next month, the spacecraft Hayabusa2 plans to shoot a two-kilo copper object to blast a small crater on Ryugu's surface. Hayabusa2 will then collect samples from the crater, which will later be sent to Earth for laboratory studies.

Hayabusa-2 reached the asteroid, which was left over from the early days of our Solar System, but the rovers have only just been deployed.

Ryugu is a blackish coloured, diamond-shaped asteroid, and it rotates on its axis once every 7.5 hours.

According to, the tiny landers (known as MINERVA-II1A and MINERVA-II1B) briefly lost contact with JAXA after deployment, though were later confirmed to have made it to the surface in "good condition" by the agency. For the first time, autonomous movement and picture capture will be possible on an asteroid's surface.

Situated in an orbit between the Earth and Mars, the asteroid Ryugu is believed to be rich in water and organic materials, making it a flawless object for learning more about the possible extraterrestrial societies in the galaxy and maybe, other solar systems.

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