Two JAXA rovers deployed by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency landed on an asteroid millions of miles from Earth this weekend and sent pack photos and data.
The agency confirmed on Twitter that the rovers, which measure 7 cm in height and 18 cm in diameter, were in good condition and moving on the space rock’s surface transmitting photos and data.
“I felt awed by what we had achieved in Japan. This is just a real charm of deep space exploration,” said Takashi Kubota, a spokesman for the space agency, according to CNN.
The rovers were transported by the Hayabusa 2 probe, which left Earth in 2014 and finally arrived at the Ryugu asteroid some 200 million miles away in June, Digital Trends reported.
Since then, the Hayabusa has been surveying the 900-meter-wide asteroid and conducting exploration activities to gather sample collections until it deployed Rover-1A and Rover-1B to capture images of the asteroid and collect data such as surface temperature readings.
JAXA detailed the rovers’ deployment and landing on Twitter along with images of the asteroid’s surface.
In a statement, the space agency said it expected the asteroid to be rich in water and organic materials, which could help scientists “clarify interactions between the building blocks of Earth and the evolution of its oceans and life, thereby developing solar system science,” according to CNN.
In coming weeks, the Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout (MASCOT) will be sent to examine the asteroid, followed by the Rover-2 in 2019, Digital Trends noted.
Scientists hope to bring back particle samples to Earth by 2020 in hope that they will unlock mysteries of our solar system.
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