The first images from the asteroid Ryugu

The Hayabusa 2 probe was launched in 2014 from the Tanegashima spaceport. After a journey of nearly four yearsóży, at the end of June the Japanese probe reached its destination – the asteroid Ryugu. Two rovers have been lowered to the surface of the asteroid, whichóre are designed to take próbek the rock and deliver it back to Earth, which is scheduled to happen in 2020.

The rover’s launch operationów launched on friday. A probe belonging to Japan’s JAXA Space Agency approached the Ryugu asteroid at about 55 metersów and released próMINERVA-II1A (MIcro Nano Experimental Robot Vehicle for Asteroid) – Rover-1A and Rover-1B, whichóre safely settled on the surface of the asteroid.

The próbniki are relatively small devices. They are cylindrical in shape and measure 18 cm by 7 cm. Each weighs a kilogram. They do not have kół nor caterpillars, and they will navigate on the surface of an asteroid using a… juiceów. They are equipped with systems thatówhich will allow them to jump over a distance of several tens of metersów.

Such long-distance jumps are possible thanks to the negligible gravity of asteroid Ryugu. The rock itself is about 900 metersódiameter and mission designers decided that jumps would be the best system for navigating the surface of a space rock. During such a jump próThe bniki can rise as high as 15 metersów and the jump can take as long as 15 minutes.

The images sent to Earth are a bit blurry, but the next ones will surely be sharper. – I can’t find the wordów to express how happy I am that we were able to carry out the plan of exploration on the surface of the asteroid – Said Yuichi Tsuda, project manager of Hayabusa-2.

A number of instruments are mounted on these tiny roversóin research. Cameras, temperature sensors, accelerometers and other sensors.

But another machine is expected to arrive on the surface of Ryugu in early October – MASCOT (Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout). It is already a much larger device. It weighs about 10 kilogramsów and is expected to make observations from the asteroid’s surface. RóAlso next month, the Hayabusa 2 probe will launch a missile toward the rock, whichóry will punch a crater on the asteroid’s surface and so the probe can retrieve some of the „fresh” material.

The Hayabusa 2 probe (Hayabusa means falcon in Japanese) is an almost identical copy of the Hayabusa probe, która in 2005 downloaded próbki from the asteroid Itokawa. Próbki arrived on Earth five years póź later. Hayabusa was the first mission in which theórej managed to bring próbki from the asteroid to our planet.

Ryugu is a C-class asteroid and is about less than a kilometer wide – about three times the size of Itokawa, but four times smaller than comet 67P/Churiumov–Gierasimienko visited by European Space Agency’s Rosetta probe. The orbit of Ryugu intersects the orbit of Earth and Mars.