The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) took to Twitter to celebrate as two rovers caught photos on the surface of an asteroid called Ryugu. In a new video from the Rover Minerva-II1B, you can see how the Sun moves across the sky, as the bright sunlight reflected from shiny rocks covering the surface of the Ryuga.
"We were able to confirm that Rover-1B hopped!"
As they image the asteroid, the probes will also use finely tuned sensors to record surface temperatures at each destination.
"I can not find words to express how happy I am that we were able to realize mobile exploration on the surface of an asteroid", project manager Yuichi Tsuda said on the space agency's website. The team will then welcome a final member, a third rover from MINERVA-II, next summer. The robots were released at 196 ft from the asteroid on Friday.
As quoted on the projects website, Yuichi Tsuda, a project manager, was at a loss for words when the rovers' on-asteroid hopping ability was first confirmed on September 22. They will continue to move across the surface thanks to internal motors on board that rotate in order to propel it.
Unlike the Mars rovers, which require trundling along slowly on wheels, the rovers launched from the Hayabusa2 "mothership" are created to bounce within Ryugu's low gravity in order to navigate the hard terrain.
"The image taken by MINERVA-II1 during a hop allowed me to relax as a dream of many years came true", Takashi Kubota, a spokesperson for the project was quoted as saying on the project's website. Using internal rotating masses, each bot can propel itself upward and remain afloat for almost 15 minutes, traveling up to 49 feet (15 meters) with each hop.
The rovers are equipped with wide-angle and stereo cameras to send back pictures. An explosive charge above the asteroid will be deployed next month by the spacecraft Hayabusa2.
Scientists hope that studying the 1-kilometre-wide-asteroid, which is made up of primitive material from the early Solar System, will help them to understand the origins and evolution of Earth and other planets. The rovers, which are referred to as Rover-1A and Rover-1B, have been photographing and exploring Ryugu; it took the Hayabasa2 three-and-a-half years to reach Ryugu.