Japanese mission becomes first to land rovers on asteroid

On 22 September, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) tweeted confirmation that the mission’s twin rovers, called MINERVA-II 1A and 1B, 

The Hayabusa2 mothership deployed the small probes late last week as it dropped to just 55 metres above the surface,

Mission controllers lost communication with the MINERVA rovers in the hours after deployment. 

hexagonal rovers have now sent back their first, slightly blurry, colour images of the surface and made their initial ‘hop

This is not the first time scientists have explored an asteroid.

 In 2005, the mission’s predecessor, Hayabusa, landed on the surface of a smaller asteroid, called Itokawa,

JAXA scientists reported their joy at the rovers’ success.

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