Two Rovers Just Landed on an Asteroid for the First Time Ever with Photos to Show Their Wild Ride

Something very cool just happened in space: Two Japanese rovers successfully landed on an asteroid for the first time in history. Collectively called MINERVA-II1, the rovers sent back photographs from the asteroid’s surface to Japan’s space agency JAXA over the weekend. If you ever wondered what hurtling through the universe aboard a little rock looks like, these robotic explorers have you covered.

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As you can see, it isn’t the smoothest ride. The above photo shows a rover dropping down to the asteroid; this photo below was also taken on the drop, with the rock coming into focus.

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JAXA

The rovers were delivered to the 1-kilometer-wide asteroid, named Ryugu, by way of a spacecraft. And now that they made it safely to the surface, they’ll hop around taking photographs and collecting data. In October, JAXA plans to drop a third rover onto Ryugu, CNN reports. Then the spacecraft itself is scheduled to land on the surface—but only after an explosive blasts a crater into the asteroid. Despite how it sounds, this isn’t prep for a future Armageddon-type defensive situation. It’s to collect rock samples to bring back home to Earth.

Here, a rover takes a photograph mid-hop on the asteroid’s surface.

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JAXA

Hopefully, the asteroid is full of organic materials and water. JAXA said in a statement that this information would be used to “clarify interactions between the building blocks of Earth and the evolution of its oceans and life, thereby developing solar system science.”

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There’s always something cool happening in space.



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Lifestyle – Esquire

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