Hayabusa 2 spacecraft deploys rovers on asteroid called Ryugu
A Japanese spacecraft known as Hayabusa 2 deployed two small rovers on an asteroid known as Ryugu.
This is a most amazing accomplishment, as the tiny 1 km-sized asteroid lies well over 100 million miles from Earth.
162173 Ryugu is one of many asteroids which occupy the orbital space between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.
The Hayabusa 2 has been traveling to the asteroid for the past 3.5 years conducting research about the asteroid and its composition.
The release of the two rovers named Minerva are Rover 1a and Rover 1b, small, 7-inch in diameter vehicles which have been transmitting information in the form of raw data and video.
The deployed rovers are placed into a strange world where the surface gravity on Ryugu is only 1/80,000th the gravity of the Earth.
An astronaut placed on the surface of Ryugu, could theoretically jump off the surface and float away into space.
The Minerva technology has been tested before, with the successful deployment of a Minerva probe, back in 2005 with asteroid 25143 Itokawa.
The rovers have sent back some amazing video as they touched down on the surface of Ryugu and will move slowly along the surface by using the mass inside the probe to create torque. They have no wheel system to move on the surface.
The technology of today is quite impressive as it would be hard to believe that this type of event could even be possible in the past.
The future of solar system exploration is more robotic spacecraft, as this can be done in a cost effective manner, versus manned exploration.
The major highlight of the Hayabusa 2 mission will come in October, when the tiny probe will attempt to collect a sample of surface material and return it to the Earth in 2020.
Listen to Dr. Sky on KTAR News 92.3 FM every Saturday at 3 a.m.
To print your very own monthly star chart, click here.
To view satellites/dates/times of passage, click here.
- The strange world of NASA spacecraft target ‘Ultima Thule’
- Oumuamua could be the first interstellar asteroid
- Arizona sky watcher spots asteroid on direct path toward Earth
- Arizona NASA project reports large asteroid passes close to Earth
- Tucson-based project discovered asteroid that passed close to Earth