Hayabusa2 Capsule Returns to Japan

Science Society Technology

Sagamihara, Kanagawa Pref., Dec. 8 (Jiji Press)--A capsule delivered by the Hayabusa2 unmanned probe that is believed to contain sand samples from asteroid Ryugu arrived at the Sagamihara Campus of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, in Kanagawa Prefecture, south of Tokyo, on Tuesday, after being retrieved in Australia.

JAXA said it will open the capsule as early as next week if things go smoothly to see whether there are sand samples within it.

The capsule will be opened at a special analysis facility in a protective vacuum or nitrogen-filled environment. An analysis of the samples will last for around six months.

"Our mission is to keep the samples from being exposed to Earth's environment and keep them as they were on Ryugu before providing researchers with them," said JAXA professor Tomohiro Usui, who is in charge of the analysis.

If the capsule contains sand, it will be the first time that such material has been retrieved from a space rock since the first Hayabusa brought back sand from asteroid Itokawa in 2010.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press