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News Link • Space Travel and Exploration

Japanese mini-rovers send back their first images as they hop around an asteroid

•, by Alan Boyle

The pictures are blurry because they were taken while the rovers were falling and hopping around the half-mile-wide asteroid, more than 180 million miles from Earth.

As fuzzy as they are, the photos represent a huge victory for the $150 million Hayabusa 2 mission, which was launched nearly four years ago to get an unprecedented look at the surface of an asteroid.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency first tried to put a rover on the surface of an asteroid more than a decade ago, during a mission to a space rock called Itokawa. That part of the mission fizzled, however, when the MINERVA rover carrier missed the mark and sailed off into interplanetary space.

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