Samples of the asteroid Ryugu were presented by the Japanese Space Exploration Agency (JAXA). The capsule containing samples of the asteroid Ryugu was opened on Monday at a research center outside Tokyo, in the hope that it contains organic molecules that may be related to the appearance of life. Small stones and brown powder can be seen inside the capsule.
Rare specimens were collected from the Hayabusa2, which successfully completed a six-year Odyssey.
Hayabusa2 spent 16 months in 2018 and 2019 following Ryugu, and landed twice to collect stones and dust. They were stored in a capsule called a “tamatebako” (treasure box), which he dropped to Earth before heading for other asteroids.
The capsule was released from the parent ship and parachuted into the Australian desert last week.
Within 57 hours, the capsule was transported to a laboratory of the Japanese Space Exploration Agency (JAXA). Until the sealed container was opened, the shipowners did not know if there was anything inside.
So far, JAXA estimates that it has collected 1 to 2 grams of material, or 10 to 20 times more than the 100 milligrams they expected. If this is accurate, it would be the largest sample of asteroids ever collected from space. The only other alien sample of asteroids also came from Japan via the Hayabusa1 mission, which collected just 1 milligram of material.
The Japanese agency also confirmed that it had collected the first gas samples from deep space.
A large number of particles are confirmed to be in “sample chamber A” inside the collected capsule (~ 11:10 JST on 12/15). This is thought to be the sample from the first touchdown on Ryugu. The photo looks brown, but our team says “black”! The sample return is a great success! pic.twitter.com/34vIx17zOX
– HAYABUSA2 @ JAXA (@ haya2e_jaxa) December 15, 2020
The sample container inside the re-entry capsule was opened on December 14, and we confirmed black grains thought to be from Ryugu were inside. This is outside the main chambers, and likely particles attached to the sample catcher entrance. (English release available tomorrow) https://t.co/NAw1R1cjvy pic.twitter.com/5BfXxfH29h
– HAYABUSA2 @ JAXA (@ haya2e_jaxa) December 14, 2020