Japanese Probe Drops Tiny Hopping Robots Toward Big Asteroid Ryugu | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED


Japanese Probe Drops Tiny Hopping Robots Toward Big Asteroid Ryugu

Two tiny hopping robots have begun their historic attempt to land on a big asteroid in deep space.

Japan's Hayabusa2 probe, which has been circling the 3,000-foot-wide (900 meters) asteroid Ryugu since late June, deployed two little "rovers" called MINERVA-II1A and MINERVA-II1B at 12:06 a.m. EDT (0406 GMT) today (Sept. 21). The event occurred when the mother ship was about 180 feet (55 meters) above Ryugu's pockmarked, boulder-strewn surface, mission team members said.

"The separation of MINERVA-II1 has been confirmed! The state of the spacecraft is normal," JAXA officials announced via Twitter just after the rovers deployed. That confirmation came after an apparently tense descent for Hayabusa2 flight controllers. "In the control room, you can hear the sound of deep breaths around the room," JAXA officials wrote just before the rovers were released.

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