Hayabusa2 Releases Robotic Explorer toward Ryugu Asteroid

Science Society Technology

Tokyo, Oct. 3 (Jiji Press)--The Hayabusa2 unmanned spacecraft released the Minerva-II 2 small-size robotic explorer toward the Ryugu asteroid Thursday, according to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA.

The explorer, separated from Hayabusa2 at an altitude of about one kilometer, is expected to land on the asteroid in a few days.

The 14.5-centimeter-tall octagonal column-shaped explorer carries devices to propel the explorer developed by Tohoku University, Yamagata University, Osaka University and Tokyo Denki University, respectively.

JAXA initially planned to test the devices on the asteroid's surface. But problems were found with some equipment including control circuits related to the devices after the spacecraft blasted off, making it difficult to conduct the test.

The agency and the universities then decided to release the explorer at the one-kilometer altitude, higher than initially planned, and observe its trajectory as part of research on the asteroid's gravitational field.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press