Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency has landed a couple of robots on the asteroid Ryugu some 180 million miles from Earth. The cylindrical robots are about 18cm wide and 7cm tall. They made their journey on the Hayabusa2 spacecraft which was launched from the Earth back in December 2014.
The robots reached the right spot to fall on the asteroid’s surface over the weekend. They were secured in a container called MINERVA-II1. The container was allowed to free fall slowly on the asteroid’s surface. The country’s space agency has confirmed that the container reached the surface successfully and that the box has separated so both robots have landed properly.
It’s pertinent to mention here that this was the second attempt by Japan’s space agency to launch the robots on the asteroid. The first try was back in 2005 and it didn’t go so well because the first Hayabusa spacecraft released the container at the wrong time.
Hayabusa2 reached Ryugu’s orbit in June and snapped photos to find a good landing spot for the container. The main goal of this entire exercise is to send a sample of the asteroid back to Earth in 2020. That will be done by firing a bullet at the asteroid in the hopes that it would kick up enough material that can be collected and brought back to the Earth.
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