Japan About to Land Rovers on Asteroid
|Japan's Hayabusa-2 Spacecraft|
Japan Making Space & Innovation History with the Asteroid Ryugu
If touchdown goes as planned, Japan will be the first to land rovers, two of them, on an asteroid. Japan's Hayabusa-2 spacecraft started on the mission in 2014 and has recently arrived on the 3000 foot wide Ryugu asteroid.
Mission Possible for Japan
2 of the 4 onboard rovers will be deployed on Friday 9/21/2018. They're 7 inch wide devices that will hop around the space rock to take photos and temperature readings. They hop rather than roll because of the asteroid's low gravity readings.
Next Stops - Incredible Research Opportunities About the Earth
2 larger landers will be released to collect data and rock samples over the next year. The spacecraft will depart in 12/2019 and bring back the samples and data to researchers. The Japanese research mission is looking for evidence of water and organic materials similar to that on earth to determine if space rocks like Ryugu show the beginnings of life on earth. Like India and China in Asia, Japan is pushing the limits of innovation in space exploration including on asteroids.