Scientists get their first look at an asteroid sample from space

Japanese scientists got their first look inside the sample capsule of the Hayabusa2 spacecraft containing asteroid dust from a near-Earth asteroid called Ryugu., The Hayabusa2 spacecraft launched in 2014 and reached Ryugu in 2018. It spent about a year and a half observing and sampling the asteroid before it left to deposit the sample capsule in Earth’s atmosphere.

On December 5, the capsule landed in the Woomera restricted area in Australia, and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) returned the capsule to Japan.

“We have confirmed that the black beans believed to be from Ryuju were inside,” mission representatives said He wrote on Twitter. “This is outside the main chambers, and the particles are likely bound to the entrance to the sample holder.”

The Hayabusa2 spacecraft obtained these samples by grabbing rocks from the surface of the asteroids and firing a copper bullet into the asteroid to reveal the material beneath the surface. These two types of samples should allow scientists to understand how the harsh environment of space affects Ryugu’s surface.JAXA has yet to announce when scientists will start analyzing this asteroid dust, but given that “asteroids are primitive debris left since the formation of the solar system, scientists hope that studying these samples from Ryugu will help them understand the early days of the solar system.”

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Adam Pankhurst is a news writer for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter Embed a Tweet and on Twitch.

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