RAHAF GABBANI WRITES– On September 21, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) broke ground by sending two robots to explore a potentially hazardous asteroid belonging to the Apollo group, Ryugu. The mission, “Hayabusa2,” marked a big step in a long-term effort to locate the origin of our solar system.

One of the primary reasons behind this mission was to determine the texture and viability of the asteroid to human life. With the help of these robots, we now have a better understanding of this, despite their rapid movement. Researchers have determined that Ryugu has a rich texture with large protruding rocks. Yuichi Tsuda, the project manager, stated, “I’m excited about seeing the pictures. I want to see the scenery of space seen from Ryugu’s surface.” It is believed that Ryugu contains water and minerals that could enhance human resources.

Image of Ryugu’s surface texture

Given this achievement, there have been talks of launching another rover, MASCOT, next month. Hayabusa2 mission spokespersons recently revealed how the rovers worked: the machine hops the distance, with about 50ft. between one hop and the next. These short hopping intervals are due to the weak force of gravity found in asteroids, and the low force helps the robots stay in the atmosphere longer before landing.

Before this mission, the possibility of robots landing on distanced asteroids was only a hypothetical. Moving at a high speed, the sophisticated machinery in the Hayabusa2 mission amounted to a scientific marvel. It covered 280 million kilometers to reach the asteroid in a single day, captured images, and might provide a new source for water and minerals. Pretty good for a robot!

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