JAXA releases images sent from asteroid rovers

JAXA releases images sent from asteroid rovers

Japan's space agency JAXA has released images of the surface of the asteroid Ryugu captured by two robotic vehicles that landed there last week.

The rovers, called MINERVA-II-1, have been hopping around the surface of the asteroid taking pictures after being released from the Hayabusa2 probe last Friday, Japan time.

The images released on Thursday clearly show Ryugu's surface covered with rocks of various shapes and sizes.

JAXA also released sequential photos taken at one location over about an hour. They show the rocks' shadows changing shape as the asteroid rotates and the sun's position changes.

JAXA mission manager Makoto Yoshikawa said the up-close photos reaffirmed that the asteroid's surface is covered with rocks and has few flat surfaces.

The agency also plans to land the Hayabusa2 on the asteroid.

Yoshikawa said rocks more than 50 centimeters in diameter could damage the probe, so his team needs to look for a zone with few of them.