The Japanese Space Agency (JAXA) has successfully landed two rovers on an asteroid and the robots have sent the first set of photographs giving us a glimpse into what the asteroidal surface is like.
The agency shared the pictures through tweets. The MINERVA-II1 with two rovers was launched from Japan's Hayabusa 2 probe, and landed on the surface of asteroid Ryugu. JAXA tweeted that the rovers are in good condition and moving on the surface.
One of the pictures was captured right after separation of the rover from the spacecraft. It shows the Hayabusa 2 on top and Ryugu's surface. A second image more clearly shows the asteroid with a slightly rocky surface.
Here are the pictures:
This dynamic photo was captured by Rover-1A on September 22 at around 11:44 JST. It was taken on Ryugu's surface during a hop. The left-half is the surface of Ryugu, while the white region on the right is due to sunlight. (Hayabusa2 Project) pic.twitter.com/IQLsFd4gJu- HAYABUSA2@JAXA (@haya2e_jaxa) September 22, 2018
Photo taken by Rover-1B on Sept 21 at 13:07 JST. It was captured just after separation from the spacecraft. Ryugu's surface is in the lower right. The misty top left region is due to the reflection of sunlight. 1B seems to rotate slowly after separation, minimising image blur. pic.twitter.com/P71gsC9VNI- HAYABUSA2@JAXA (@haya2e_jaxa) September 22, 2018
This is a picture from MINERVA-II1. The color photo was captured by Rover-1A on September 21 around 13:08 JST, immediately after separation from the spacecraft. Hayabusa2 is top and Ryugu's surface is below. The image is blurred because the rover is spinning. #asteroidlandingpic.twitter.com/CeeI5ZjgmM- HAYABUSA2@JAXA (@haya2e_jaxa) September 22, 2018
The probe is on a mission to collect asteroid sample and return to Earth in December 2020.