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Asteroid rovers to send back stunning new photos of the space rock’s surface

Recorded image immediately before a hop by Rover-1B on Sept. 23

(Image credit: JAXA)

The japanese space agency has released stunning new photos and video from a far-off asteroid’s rocky surface were captured by two small rovers.

On Friday, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA) Hayabusa-2 spacecraft reduced the MINERVA-II1 robbers – 1A and 1B, the space rock Ryugu.

First images released on Saturday showed the surface of the “dumpling-shaped” asteroid, which has a diameter of 2,953 feet.

JAPAN LOWERS THE ROBBERS ‘DUMPLING’ ASTEROID, HOPEFUL OF THE HISTORIC TOUCHDOWN

A second set of images released on Thursday show more details of the space rock’s surface. Rover 1B also caught a 15-frame “film,” let the Sun move in the sky of Ryugu. The images were captured on Sept. 23.

Surface image of Rover-1B after landing, Sept. 23

(Image credit: JAXA)

The rovers, each about the size of a cookie can move by “hopping” to 49 metres in a time, because the very weak gravity of the asteroid makes it difficult. They jump as long as their solar panels and power last, JAXA said.

A new picture is taken by Rover-1B immediately before a hop and a other was captured after a landing.

BEAUTIFUL ASTEROID PHOTOS CAPTURED BY SMALL ROVERS ON THE SPACE ROCK’S SURFACE

In addition to the capturing of the images, the robbers measuring the surface temperature. A larger rover, and a lander will be released from the Hayabusa-2 as part of the mission. The mission of the MASCOT lander developed by the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and the French space agency (CNES).

Surface image taken by Rover-1A on Sept. 23

(Image credit: JAXA)

Hayabusa-2 is scheduled to try the three brief touch-and-go landings on the asteroid to collect samples, in the hope of providing clues to the origin of the solar system and life on Earth. Since they arrived at the Ryugu, scientists are looking for suitable landing sites on the uneven surface, and the first attempt is expected in October.

Launched on Dec. 3, 2014, Hayabusa-2 came on Ryugu on June 27, 2018, when the asteroid was nearly 170 million miles from Earth. The spacecraft traveled nearly 2 billion miles to reach the space rock.

AN ASTEROID TURNED INTO A BLAZING FIREBALL OVER AFRICA

Hayabusa-2 is expected to leave Ryugu at the end of 2019 and returning to Earth around the end of 2020.

Rover-1B succeeded in recording a movie on Ryugu surface! The film has 15 images captured on September 23, 2018 from 10:34 – 11:48 JST. Enjoy ‘standing’ on the surface of this asteroid! [6/6] pic.twitter.com/57avmjvdVa

— HAYABUSA2@JAXA (@haya2e_jaxa) September 27, 2018

The spacecraft is the successor of JAXA’s Hayabusa, which landed on the asteroid Itokawa in November 2005. Despite the fact that, haunted with problems, the mission collected a number of asteroid samples, which returned to Earth with a Hayabusa in June 2010.

NASA is also on a mission to retrieve an asteroid sample. The space agency’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will be launched on Sept. 8, 2016, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on a trip to the near-Earth asteroid Bennu. OSIRIS-Rex is expected to arrive at Bennu on Dec. 3, 2018, and to start a research to the space rock.

The spacecraft will be the asteroid sample to Earth in 2023.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers

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