Tiny space rover shoots majestic movie on asteroid’s surface

This artist’s illustration depicts the Minerva rovers on the asteroid surface.


What makes a movie great? Dialogue, plot, settings, drama. Or you can just shoot a short on an asteroid. 

Japan’s Hayabusa 2 mission successfully deployed two Minerva robotic rovers to the surface of an asteroid named Ryugu over the weekend. Japan’s space agency JAXA sent back pictures, but now we have a 15-frame-long movie courtesy of Rover-1B.

“Enjoy ‘standing’ on the surface of this asteroid!” JAXA wrote in a Thursday tweet.

Director J.J. Abrams will be envious of the movie’s impressive sun-lit lens flare, which rotates across the scene. The asteroid’s rocky surface is visible in the bottom half of the frame. 

JAXA released a host of images from the asteroid over the last few days, including the highest-resolution Ryugu surface image yet. The views show an inhospitable-looking environment covered in rocks and boulders.

Hayabusa 2 arrived at its asteroid target in June. This is a sequel to the original Hayabusa mission, which returned a sample of an asteroid back to Earth in 2010. 

Hayabusa 2 hopes to pull off the same feat as the original mission. If all goes as planned, it will bring back a bit of Ryugu in late 2020.

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