JAXA's Hayabusa 2 has taken the most high-resolution photo of its target asteroid, the 162173 Ryugu, we've ever seen. Unlike previous images that only showed Ryugu from afar, this one shows its surface in detail -- you can clearly see its texture and its lumpy rocks as if you're hovering right above them. The spacecraft's Optical Navigation Camera - Telescopic (ONC-T) snapped the image just as Hayabusa was zooming close to the asteroid to deploy the MINERVA-II1 rovers. ROVER-1A and 1B successfully touched down on the surface of the asteroid and have already started taking photos of their surroundings.
The Hayabusa 2 mission is equipped with multiple scientific payloads, including tools that can collect samples for analysis. Scientists are hoping that the data they gather from the samples can help shed light on the origin of water and organic matter on Earth, as well as on the origin and evolution of the planets in our solar system. Hayabusa 2 will be leaving Ryugu with the samples in December 2019 and will be back on Earth by December 2020.