Japanese Space Rovers Send Dazzling Photos From Asteroid Landing Back to Earth
A feat years in the making.
A probe sent into the cosmos by Japan's space agency has beamed back dazzling photos taken by two rovers that landed on an asteroid.
CBS News reports the Hayabusa2 space probe recently arrived to an asteroid known as 162173 Ryugu, where it dropped two landers designed to hop around on the surface of the celestial object as it barrels through space, after being launched almost four years ago.
The agency called JAXA, confirmed the successful landing Saturday and posted photos taken by the little landers online.
While the first images were less than awe-inspiring, successive shots show a craggy, pitted surface fit for a Hollywood blockbuster.
"I cannot find words to express how happy I am that we were able to realize mobile exploration on the surface of an asteroid," said JAXA program manager Yuichi Tsuda.
Both landers come equipped with a stereo camera, a wide-angle camera and a thermometer to gauge the temperature of the asteroid.
A locomotion mechanism allows the landers to hop in the asteroid's weak gravity.
"We are sorry we have kept you waiting!" JAXA tweeted excitedly Saturday. "Both rovers are confirmed to have landed on the surface of Ryugu. They are in good condition and have transmitted photos & data. We also confirmed they are moving on the surface. "
A third lander is scheduled to be released Oct. 3. A fourth lander is slated for deployment some time next year.
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