Japanese space capsule with historical samples of an asteroid lands in Australia

The capsule has been collected by an Australian team in a desert in the south of the country


After a space trip of more than five billion kilometers, a capsule sent by the Japanese space probe Hayabusa 2, which contains the first sample in the history of materials extracted under the surface of an asteroid, has landed this Saturday in Australia.

The Japanese space agency (Jaxa) has confirmed that it has received radio signals emitted by the small capsule after its landing in Australia.

Later, during the morning of this Sunday, he confirmed that the capsule had been collected with a message on Twitter.

“We found the capsule! Next to the parachute! Wow!” Read the message published after the helicopter sent to the Woomera desert in the south of the oceanic country fulfilled its mission.

The capsule successfully undocked from the probe at a distance of 220,000 kilometers from Earth, according to the Japanese agency.

The artifact has mined 4.6 billion-year-old material that dates back to the “early days of the solar system,” according to mission chief Makoto Yoshikawa.

Samples from the asteroid Ryugu are the first to be taken from below the surface of an asteroid and will begin to be analyzed in June in the land of the rising sun.

The researchers hope that the analysis of the samples will help them to trace the origin of the solar system and they could also contain organic material, which could be “the origin of life on earth,” according to Yoshikawa, since a hypothesis about the beginning of life is that similar asteroids hit our planet at some point and thus bring water to the surface of the planet.

With the landing, an operation that began in December 2014 with the launch of the Hayabusa 2 probe is ended, which has started a new path towards another asteroid that should reach in about ten years.

An earlier model of the Hayabusa 2 brought solid samples from an asteroid to Earth for the first time in history in 2010.

The German Aerospace Center (DLR for its original acronym) and the French space agency also collaborated on the project that the DLR executive director has called “a historic moment for space research.”

The Japanese agency plans to allow access to some samples to NASA and in 2022 to researchers from other countries.


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