Japanese Robots Landed on a Moving Asteroid

Nearly 4 years ago, Japan launched the spacecraft Hayabusa2 towards a moving asteroid named Ryugu. The probe deployed two robots on Friday, September 21st. On Saturday, September 22nd, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) confirmed that the rovers landed unscathed on the asteroid.

Making history

This is the first time in history that any space agency has successfully landed rovers on a moving asteroid. Ryugu – named after a mythical Japanese underwater dragon palace – is situated between the orbits of Earth and Mars.

JAXA calls them rovers, but they’re not rovers like we’re accustomed to. The Mars rovers Spirit, Curiosity, and Opportunity roll around the Red Planet on wheels. Rover1A and Rover1B, however, do not have wheels. Ryugu’s rugged surface renders wheels an ineffective means of motion. The two tiny robots, which measure 7x18cm – will instead explore the asteroid by hopping around.

The robots have already captured some impressive images of the asteroid, giving us a close up view of Ryugu, and they will continue sending images back to Earth.

Hayabasu2, which cruises about 12.5 miles above Ryugu, will eventually deploy a larger rover called MASCOT, another small hopping rover, blast a projectile at the asteroid, collect material samples, and return home.

The mission could provide invaluable information into the history of our solar system.

Thanks servomotors!

Who would have thought that man could actually land on a moving asteroid? It’s a humdrum feat in science fiction, but it’s a remarkable accomplishment in reality. This impressive event never would have happened without servomotors.

Granted, the servomotors used in Japanese space robots are a little different from the Indramat servos in your industrial motion control system.

The servos in your packaging or printing system may not be as exciting as the ones in the hopping robots on Ryugu, but they’re certainly more important to you.

Make sure your Indramat motors, drives, and controls work the way that they should. Call 479-422-0390 for repair, service, or support for any of your Indramat products.