According to JAXA, the Japanese spacecraft Hayabusa2 once again approached Ryugu and dropped the MINERVA-II2 probe on the asteroid’s surface. This is the fourth (and final) rover released to study Ryugu’s gravitational field.
Hayabusa2’s main aim is to explore the asteroid using different methods and take soil samples from its surface and sub-surface. To achieve the goal, Hayabusa has already released four rovers onto the asteroid, namely two MINERVA-II1 probes, as well as MASCOT and MINERVA-II2 rovers.
The MINERVA-II2 rover is 14.5 centimeters tall and 15 centimeters across and weight only 877 grams. Despite its tiny dimensions (by space standards), the probe is equipped with temperature sensors, cameras, and an accelerometer. It can move around by hopping.
After making the necessary measurements, Hayabusa will begin its journey back to Earth. This is the last mission of the probe on the asteroid Ryugu. The spacecraft is expected to deliver soil samples from the asteroid to a laboratory on Earth by the end of next year.