162173 Ryugu, provisional designation 1999 JU3, is a near-Earth object and a potentially hazardous asteroid of the Apollo group. It measures approximately 1 kilometer (0.6 mi) in diameter and is a dark object of the rare spectral type Cg, with qualities of both a C-type asteroid and a G-type asteroid.
Ryugu was discovered on 10 May 1999 by astronomers with the Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research at the Lincoln Lab's ETS near Socorro, New Mexico, in the United States. It was given the provisional designation 1999 JU3.
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) spacecraft Hayabusa 2 was launched in December 2014 and successfully arrived at the asteroid on 27 June 2018. It is planned to return material from the asteroid to Earth by the end of 2020.
The Hayabusa2 mission includes four rovers with various scientific instruments. On 21 September 2018, the first two of these rovers, which will hop around the surface of the asteroid, were released from Hayabusa2.
On September 22, 2018, JAXA confirmed the two rovers had successfully touched down on Ryugu's surface. Three images were published; two during descent to the asteroid and one after MINERVA-II1A touched down. This marks the first time a mission has completed a successful landing on a fast-moving asteroid body.
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