On Friday the Japanese spacecraft Hayabusa-2 has successfully placed two mini-rovers named MINERVA-II1A and MINERVA-II1B onto the near earth asteroid Ryugu, which is about 1 kilometer (0.6 mi) in diameter:  They Made It! Japan’s Two Hopping Rovers Successfully Land on Asteroid Ryugu.

Hayabusa-2 came within 55 meters of the surface of the asteroid to release the rovers. The spacecraft then moved back about 20 km from the surface. The rovers will explore the surface by short jumps or hops from one spot to another.

Here is a sampling of postings on Tweeter as the spacecraft approached the asteroid and then deployed the rovers: Tweets  by HAYABUSA2@JAXA (@haya2e_jaxa) | Twitter:

 

 

The ambitious mission is really just getting started:

  • The larger rover MASCOT will be deployed to the surface in October.
  • The mini-hopper MINERVA-II2 will be deployed in 2019.
  • Samples of the asteroid will be returned to earth in 2020.

Find more images from the spacecraft at Navigation Images from the MINERVA-Ⅱ1 deployment operation | Galleries | JAXA HAYABUSA2 PROJECT.

Animations of the mission events and technologies:

A press conference on the event:

 

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