Jaxa Releases European Robot Toward Asteroid Ryugu

JAXA releases European robot toward asteroid Ryugu

Japan's space agency, JAXA, says it has successfully released another landing probe from its Hayabusa2 spacecraft toward the asteroid Ryugu.

JAXA made the announcement on Wednesday morning, Japan time.

JAXA says it won't be able to confirm whether the robot has landed on Ryugu until late Wednesday afternoon at the earliest.

The robot is named Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout, or MASCOT. It was jointly developed by the German and French space agencies, and is about the size of a microwave oven.

It's equipped with a spectroscopic microscope to analyze the composition of minerals on the asteroid's surface. The probe will also measure magnetic fields and temperatures.

The data could help scientists confirm whether the boulders on Ryugu contain water, which would be a clue to the asteroid's origin.

Two smaller robots were released from the mother spacecraft and landed on Ryugu on September 21st to shoot images of the surface.

Hayabusa2 reached the asteroid, which is 300 million kilometers from Earth, in June.