Japan’s space agency confirmed its readiness to deploy two robotic explorers Hayabusa-2 to the surface of an asteroid, New Scientists reported.
On Friday, the Hayabusa-2 spacecraft will despatch a pair of “rovers” to the 1km-wide space rock known as Ryugu. According to the Japan space agency, Rover 1A and Rover 1B will move around by hopping in Ryugu’s low gravity; they will capture images of the surface and measure temperatures.
Hayabusa-2 has a successful history, this June, it reached the asteroid Ryugu after a three-and-a-half-year journey. The space engineers suggest if all goes well, Hayabusa-2 will be the first spacecraft to successfully place robot rovers on the surface of an asteroid.
The 1km-wide space rock known formally as 162173 Ryugu belongs to a particular primitive type of asteroid, and is, therefore, a relic left over from the early days of our Solar System. Studying it could shed light on the origin and evolution of our own planet.
The rovers are stored in a drum-shaped container at the base of the Hayabusa-2 “mothership”. Collectively, they form a 3.3kg science package known as Minerva II-In perspective, two larger lenders will also be released onto the asteroid to collect data and rock samples.
The Hayabusa-2 will then depart in December 2019, bringing the rocks back to Earth for researchers to study. “If we find water and organics are similar to that on Earth, it will be evidence that space rocks like Ryugu are how we all began,” Elizabeth Tasker of Japan’s aerospace agency told journalists.