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

Japan successfully lands rovers on asteroid Ryugu

Scientists surveyed the asteroid for several months before selecting a landing zone for the rovers.

When the rovers were released, JAXA engineers were forced to wait and wonder if they made it to the surface in one piece.

The Japanese space agency JAXA has successfully landed two space rovers on a far-flung asteroid in the deep void of space.

One of the pictures was captured right after separation of the rover from the spacecraft.

Now, following the successful deployment of a pair of tiny rovers from Japan's Hayabusa-2 spacecraft, the first color images from an asteroid's surface have been send back to Earth, and boy are they creepy. 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.

The space agency reported that MINERVA-II1 is the world's first mobile exploration robot to land on the surface of an asteroid.

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Image: The surface of Ryugu is in the lower right.

Yuichi Tsuda, Hayabusa2 project manager said: "I can not find words to express how happy I am that we were able to realise mobile exploration on the surface of an asteroid".

It differs from the European Space Agency's Rosetta mission which landed on a comet in 2016, as that probe was only online briefly and remained stationary on the surface.

"I am proud that Hayabusa2 was able to contribute to the creation of this technology for a new method of space exploration by surface movement on small bodies". 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.

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. It's an incredibly cool image, but it's just the first of what JAXA hopes will be lots of snapshots of asteroid, called Ryugu.

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