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JAXA, the Japanese space agency, just released pics from the surface of the asteroid its Hayabusa-2 spacecraft probes landed on and they are spectacular to say the least.
A successful landing of the probes on the asteroid was marked by the release of a series of photographs the probes took from the surface of the object.
The asteroid, named Ryugu, is just 1 kilometer long according to the BBC and the probes themselves are tiny enough to maneuver in the low gravity environment of the asteroid.
The probes were part of a Minerva II-1 “science package” weighing only 3.3kg. Armed with both wide-angle and stereo cameras, the probes are also able to measure ambient temperature via spines on its back as well as maneuver around the asteroid via short hops. The surface of Ryugu was reportedly rougher than anticipated so the success of the probes in spite of this is a testament to JAXA’s planning with this project.
The landing represents the end of a three-and-a-half-year long journey on the part of the Hayabusa-2 spacecraft. JAXA seems thrilled with the results and, indeed, with both probes in perfect working condition, we can expect even more data to be released in the future.
Naturally JAXA has more in store for Ryugu along the lines of gathering data about the space object. Plans include deploying a German-built unit to study the surface of the asteroid as well as detonate a device on it to study its composition. As one of the more ancient objects in our solar system the scientists behind the project hope to gain some insight into our solar system’s formation from the Ryugu asteroid.
As the project proceeds we hope the agency releases even more photographs from the surface of Ryugu.
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