Japan's Hayabusa Did Return Particles from Asteroid Itokawa

Japan's Hayabusa Did Return Particles from Asteroid Itokawa

Scientists have been examining particles in Japan’s Hayabusa asteroid sample return capsule to determine if the probe successfully brought back anything from the asteroid it visited, Itokawa. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) announced today that “about 1,500 grains were identified as rocky particles, and most were determined to be of extraterrestrial origin, and definitely from Asteroid Itokawa.”

The Hayabusa capsule was recovered in Australia in June, but the mission had encountered many challenges. While JAXA was lauded for the technical feat of getting the capsule back to Earth, it was not clear if it actually had any of Itokawa’s material inside. The mechanism that was intended to grab the sample apparently failed, but scientists were hopeful that at least some dust had made its way into the return canister. It seems that those hopes have been realized.

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