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Home / Science / The Japanese space probe Hayabusa2 has just shot a tiny rover on the asteroid Ryugu

The Japanese space probe Hayabusa2 has just shot a tiny rover on the asteroid Ryugu



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MINERVA-II2, captured immediately after separation.


JAXA

The Japanese spacecraft Hayabusa2 has been hunting down the near-Earth asteroid Ryugu since its launch in December 201

4 and is approaching space rock. During the chase, it has deployed two rovers on Ryugu's surface and blasted a hole in Ryugu's surface to collect samples with a tiny cannonball . His new mission feels like the natural progression of Hayabusa2 – now it shoots a rover to the surface.

When we say shooting, we mean it in the basketball sense. The rover is the basketball, and Hayabusa2 shoots a three-point shot from 300 meters away. It shoots from the parking lot and it does it in the park with a communication delay. Impressive, but does it make the basket?

Hayabusa2 wore the MINERVA II2 capsule, which itself contains a rover. This rover, built by Tohoku University in Japan, is said to live on the surface of the asteroid for a short time. It's only about six inches wide and the same size, but the cylindrical, lightweight Rover carries a couple of cameras, as well as an accelerometer and a thermometer, to do scientific research on the surface.

Members of the Japanese space agency JAXA have previously reported bugs with the Rover MINERVA-II2. In November 2018, Elizabeth Tasker told the Planetary Society: "The communication between the rover and the spaceship was fine, but the CPU did not respond." As a result, the rover may be unable to collect data and send it back to Hayabusa2 and Earth for analysis.

JAXA, however, decided to move forward anyway, and on Wednesday the Hayabusa2 rover was deployed at a height of one kilometer above the surface. It is now on its way to Ryugu.

JAXA scientists celebrated the breakup with fist pumps and a smile, but now it's time to bring the rover safely to the surface.

An overview of the mission provided by JAXA shows the operation in more detail. According to JAXA's plans, the rover should touchdown on the surface until October 8. Although the rover will not be able to return data to Hayabusa2, it will still perform an important function. When it descends to the surface of Ryugu, it will help JAXA scientists to more accurately estimate the asteroid's gravitational field. In addition, the agency will be provided with data for separating small probes on the surface.


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