Something very cool just happened in space: Two Japanese rovers successfully landed on an asteroid for the first time in history. Collectively called MINERVA-II1, the rovers sent back photographs from the asteroid's surface to Japan's space agency JAXA over the weekend. If you ever wondered what hurtling through the universe aboard a little rock looks like, these robotic explorers have you covered.
As you can see, it isn't the smoothest ride. The above photo shows a rover dropping down to the asteroid; this photo below was also taken on the drop, with the rock coming into focus.
The rovers were delivered to the 1-kilometer-wide asteroid, named Ryugu, by way of a spacecraft. And now that they made it safely to the surface, they'll hop around taking photographs and collecting data. In October, JAXA plans to drop a third rover onto Ryugu, CNN reports. Then the spacecraft itself is scheduled to land on the surface-but only after an explosive blasts a crater into the asteroid. Despite how it sounds, this isn't prep for a future Armageddon-type defensive situation. It's to collect rock samples to bring back home to Earth.
Here, a rover takes a photograph mid-hop on the asteroid's surface.
Hopefully, the asteroid is full of organic materials and water. JAXA said in a statement that this information would be used to "clarify interactions between the building blocks of Earth and the evolution of its oceans and life, thereby developing solar system science."
There's always something cool happening in space.
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