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Monday, October 1, 2018

Japan Lands Two Robots On Asteroid

Call it what you will, but Japan is the first nation to have landed not just one, but two rovers on an asteroid.

The images above show the asteroid Ryugu, with JAXA (Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency) notations showing where the rovers landed.

It hardly seems fair, considering Japan is the only country to have actually done any asteroid chasing... but who cares? The feat by JAXA IS impressive.

Consider, if you will, that within the past month, the U.S. has announced that via NASA, it will once again journey to the Moon with manned missions... and note that no nation other than the U.S. has landed human beings on the Moon... and even then, none since 1972 and Apollo 17.

Of course, to this day, some people believe the moon landings to be a staged landing that actually took place in a lot somewhere in the U.S.

JAXA had launched its unmanned Hayabasa2 asteroid explorer to fly to the Ryugu asteroid, a one kilometer-wide chunk of rock.

On September 21, 2018 at 4:06PM GMT., it deployed two robotic probes--Rover 1A and 1B, and both landed successfully on Ryugu and began to transmit back images of the asteroid surface.

These probes are actually part of the MINERVA-II1 (MIcro Nano Experimental Robot Vehicle for Asteroid). The MINERVA-II1 is the world’s first rover (mobile exploration robot) to land on the surface of an asteroid.

It is also the first time for autonomous movement and picture capture to occur on an asteroid surface.

The MINERVA-II1 is, according to JAXA, "the world’s first man-made object to explore movement on an asteroid surface."

Rover 1A has four specially-designed color cameras--three are on Rover 1B--with the cameras taking stereo photos of Ryugu's surface.

Rover1A image of Ryugu Asteroid after landing on September 23, 2018.
Rover1B image of Ryugu Asteroid after landing on September 23, 2018.

The rovers are also equipped with temperature gauges and optical sensors as well as an accelerometer and a set of gyroscopes.

Click on the link below to see a 15-second color video taken by Rover 1B of the surface.

Andrew Joseph

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