Japanese space robots just landed on an asteroid (and took incredible photos)

MINERVA II1a and MINERVA II1b are pretty mean photographers.

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Mark Serrels
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency  

When it comes to space travel, human beings are just getting started. Robots on the other hand are way ahead.

We have the Curiosity Rover doing its thing on Mars, the Parker Solar Probe is en route to the sun.

And now JAXA, the Japanese Space Agency, has landed two rovers on a goddamn asteroid. Best of all: They've sent back photographs.

The MINERVA rovers were launched from Japan's Hayabusa 2 probe, which has been orbiting an asteroid called Ryuga for a few months now. The probe is on an asteroid sample-return mission, and is planning to survey the asteroid and return to Earth in December 2020.

Two MINERVA rovers were deployed on Sept. 21 and both have successfully landed. The first shot sent back can be seen above. It's a little blurry -- mainly because the rover was spinning when it took the shot.

The above image is much clearer. Yep, that's the asteroid itself in the bottom right corner of the photo.

Above is the latest shot to be sent back from the Hayabusa probe and it is absolutely incredible.

Hayabusa intends to land a larger rover, called MASCOT, in October this year. The project hopes to bring asteroid samples back to Earth when it returns in December next year.