The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has published a video clip alongside a number of photos from the surface of Ryugu asteroid, a diamond-shaped space rock nearly 1km in diameter orbiting the Sun between the Earth and Mars.
Rover-1B succeeded in shooting a movie on Ryugu’s surface! The movie has 15 frames 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) 27 сентября 2018 г.
The 15-frame video was shot on September 23, two days after two Minerva-II1 (Micro/Nano Experimental Robot Vehicle for Asteroid) rovers separated from the unmanned spacecraft Hayabusa2 and touched down on the asteroid. It shows the Sun passing overhead as seen from the rocky surface of Ryugu.
Rover-1A snapped a photograph of its own antenna and pin! Image taken on September 23, 2018 at 09:48 JST. [5/6] pic.twitter.com/W8zJqo2233— HAYABUSA2@JAXA (@haya2e_jaxa) 27 сентября 2018 г.
The tiny robots don't have wheels — they simply don't need them as rovers on normal wheels or crawlers would float upwards due to Ryugu's nearly-nonexistant gravity. Instead, the Japanese robots hop across the asteroid to take their magnificent snaps.
This image was taken just before Rover-1B hopped. Photograph snapped on September 23, 2018 at about 09:46 JST [2/6] pic.twitter.com/m8S3cyYFq6— HAYABUSA2@JAXA (@haya2e_jaxa) 27 сентября 2018 г.
The rovers have also sent back several still images. Some of them are blurry, as they were taken while the rovers were rotating. Others feature the reflection of sunlight playing tricks on the exploratory robots' colored cameras.
This image was captured on September 23, 2018 at 10:10 JST by Rover-1B after landing. [3/6] pic.twitter.com/fUA6ig31yW— HAYABUSA2@JAXA (@haya2e_jaxa) 27 сентября 2018 г.
At least one of the rovers was moving on the asteroid's surface, JAXA reported, touting Minerva-II1 as the world's first man-made objects to ever land on an asteroid and explore its movement from the surface.
This surface image was taken by Rover-1A on September 23, 2018 at 09:43 JST. [4/6] pic.twitter.com/uxSfXWqOu1— HAYABUSA2@JAXA (@haya2e_jaxa) 27 сентября 2018 г.
JAXA has also obtained the highest-resolution photographs of Ryugu's surface to date, taken with Hayabusa2's onboard camera as it approached the asteroid to lower the rovers.
As Hayabusa2 descended towards Ryugu to deploy the MINERVA-II1 rovers, the ONC-T camera snapped the highest resolution image yet of the asteroid surface!https://t.co/JDbk29RXHG pic.twitter.com/KFsLet5BMJ— HAYABUSA2@JAXA (@haya2e_jaxa) 28 сентября 2018 г.
Hayabusa2, an asteroid sample-return mission led by JAXA's Institute of Space and Astronautical Science, completed its 42-month, 300-million-kilometer journey to Ryugu on June 28. It is scheduled to depart from Ryugu in December 2019 and isn't expected to return home with its samples until December 2020.