Sept. 21 (UPI) -- Japan's Hayabusa 2 probe has released its two miniature robotic landers toward the target asteroid Ryugu.
If the landing is successful, the miniature spacecraft, which can hop around, will use their cameras and instruments, including temperature and optical sensors, to observe Ryugu.
"They will become the first ever mobile robots to conduct observations on an asteroid," according to Japanese newspaper The Mainichi.
Japan's Aerospace Exploration Agency, JAXA, confirmed the release of the two landers, MINERVA-II1A and MINERVA-II1B, on Twitter. The agency is waiting on data and images to confirm the craft landed safely.
"Communication with MINERVA-II1 has currently stopped," JAXA wrote on Twitter. "This is probably due to the rotation to Ryugu, and MINERVA-II1 is now on the far side of the asteroid. We are currently working to confirm if there are images capturing the MINERVA-II1 landing."
Real-time flight data from the two landers can be found online.
Images shared online by JAXA showed the view from the landers during their slow descent to Ryugu.
Since Hayabusa 2 first rendezvoused with the asteroid earlier this summer, the probe has been regularly snapping photographs of the target.
As Space.com reported, the release of the tiny hoppers is just the first of several landing attempts for Hayabusa 2.
"Hayabusa2 is scheduled to deploy a bigger lander called MASCOT in the first week of October and another small hopper, MINERVA-II2, sometime next year," according to Space.com. "The mother ship itself will also make several forays to the surface in 2019, to grab asteroid material that will be returned to Earth in December 2020."
Last month, NASA's own asteroid-targeting probe, OSIRIS-REx, began its approach toward Bennu.