Japan places two rovers on an asteroid

Japan’s asteroid mission Hayabusa2 has successfully dropped the first two rovers to the surface of its target space rock Ryugu. Hayabusa2 dropped to a lowest altitude of just 55 meters from the surface and released twin rovers, called MINERVA-II 1A and 1B.

Cameras on the hexagonal rovers will use rotating motors to hop across the surface, each jump lasting some 15 minutes owing to the body’s low gravity.

The landers are designed to take images of the asteroid and their sensors will measure its temperature.

Before it leaves Ryugu next year, the Hayabusa2 mothership will release two more landers and, in late October, touch the surface itself to collect a sample to bring back to Earth.