The Japanese space agency JAXA said it made history Saturday by successfully landing two unmanned rovers on an asteroid.
“The two rovers are in good condition and are transmitting images and data,” a JAXA statement said after the rovers separated from the Hayabusa2 spacecraft and landed on the asteroid Ryugu.
The rovers are collectively known as MINERVA-II1. The space agency reported that MINERVA-II1 is the world’s first mobile exploration robot to land on the surface of an asteroid.
“I felt awed by what we had achieved in Japan. This is just a real charm of deep space exploration,” said Takashi Kubota, a spokesman for the space agency.
The Hayabusa2 began its approach to Ryugu from an orbiting altitude of around 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) on Thursday afternoon.
THIS JUST IN:
The MINERVA-II1 is transmitting its first images from the surface of the asteroid:
Ummmm…should we cut to commercial? Well, I don’t know what to say. What do you mean we’re still live? OK, ok…we’re getting word that NASA and NORAD are continuing to monitor the situation…