Japan hopes for historic asteroid landing

Published: September 21, 2018 19:08:00 | Updated: October 12, 2018 17:37:51


Japan's space agency (JAXA) believes it has successfully landed two robotic explorers on the surface of an asteroid, making history.

"We don't have confirmation yet, but we are very, very hopeful," project manager Yuichi Tsuda said.

On Friday, the Hayabusa-2 spacecraft despatched a pair of "rovers" to the 1km-wide space rock known as Ryugu, reports BBC.

Rover 1A and Rover 1B will hop around in Ryugu's low gravity, capturing temperatures and images of the surface.

Hayabusa-2 reached the Ryugu asteroid in June this year after a three-and-a-half-year journey.

Officials hope to confirm a successful landing in a day or two, when the spaceship sends data from the rovers to Earth.

While the European Space Agency has previously managed to land on an icy comet, this would be the first spacecraft to successfully place robot rovers on the surface of an asteroid.

Asteroids are essentially leftover building materials from the formation of the Solar System 4.6 billion years ago.

Ryugu is a particularly primitive variety, and studying it could shed light on the origin and evolution of our own planet.

 

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