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Beautiful asteroid photos captured by small rovers on the space rock’s surface

Image captured by Rover-1A on Sept. 22. Color image captured during moving (a hop) on the surface of Ryugu. The left half of the image is the surface of the asteroid. The bright white region is due to sunlight. (Image credit: JAXA).

The japanese space agency has released remarkable photographs of a distant 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 on the space rock Ryugu.

Images released on Saturday show the surface of the “dumpling-shaped” asteroid, which has a diameter of only 2,953 feet.

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

The two robbers – Robber-1A and Rover-1B, are in good condition and the sending of images and data.

Image captured by Rover-1B on Sept. 21. This color photo was taken immediately after the separation of the spacecraft. The surface of Ryugu is in the lower right corner. The colored blur in the upper left-hand corner is as a result of the reflection of sunlight in the image is taken. (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 color image captured in mid-hop by Rover-1A clearly shows the asteroid’s surface. Another image taken by Rover-1A, which was captured immediately after the separation of the Hayabusa-2 also shows Ryugu the rocky surface.

SPACE ‘DUMPLING’ RENDEZ-VOUS: THE JAPANESE HAYABUSA-2 SPACECRAFT ARRIVES AT ASTEROID RYUGU

Hayabusa-2 spokesman Takashi Kubota said that he was happy to see the images. “The image taken by MINERVA-II1 during a hops allowed for me to relax with a dream of many years came true,” he explained, in a statement. “I was under the impression of what we have achieved in Japan. This is just a real charm of the deep space exploration.”

Image captured by Rover-1A on Sept. 21. This is a colour image taken immediately after the separation of the spacecraft. Hayabusa2 is at the top-and the subsoil of the Ryugu is below. The image is blurred because the shot was taken while the rover was turning. (Image credit: JAXA)

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).

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.

SPACE ‘DUMPLING’ LOOMS INTO VIEW AS THE SPACECRAFT PREPARES FOR ASTEROID RENDEZVOUS

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.

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

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.

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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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