Japanese space agency releases stunning images taken from surface of an asteroid

Andrew Griffin
Thursday 27 September 2018 18:31
Japanese space agency releases stunning images taken from surface of an asteroid

The Japanese space agency has released stunning new pictures taken by a rover standing on top an asteroid.

The images, sent down from the surface of the asteroid Ryugu, show the rock in amazing and eerie detail. They were sent back over a distance of around 180 million miles.

They come after the space agency successfully landed two rovers on the asteroid, dropping them from a spacecraft floating just above the surface.


The rovers dropped down onto the asteroid by the Hayabusa-2 spacecraft are the first mobile exploration robots ever to land on an asteroid's surface. The images they are sending back are the first time that anything has ever autonomously moved and taken pictures themselves on asteroid, too.

One of the pictures includes the shadow of the antenna and pin of the rover itself.​ The pin – which is the long line that can be seen sticking out of the rover – helps increase friction when they engage in the hops that they use to jump around the surface, among other purposes.


Jaxa, the Japanese space agency, says that both of the rovers are "in good condition and are transmitting images and data". The pictures they are sending back have confirmed that they are moving themselves around the asteroid's surface.

The rovers will spend their time exploring the planet's surface by being joined by yet another visitor, called Mascot, built by scientists in Germany and France, that will further explore the surface.

The new pictures are the second batch to be sent down by the Hayabusa-2 spacecraft. The first were taken as the two rovers tumbled to the surface, and show their whirling motion as they fall.

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