JAXA
Well, Will You Look At That

Scientist Left “Speechless” After Opening Asteroid Samples

byVictor Tangermann
12. 15. 20
JAXA

The samples seemingly contain "organic matter."

Speechless

In February 2019, Japan’s Hayabusa-2 space probe pulled off an incredible feat. The small spacecraft managed to collect surface dust from asteroid Ryugu, hundreds of millions of miles from Earth.

Earlier this month, the spacecraft dropped off a special package in South Australia: a tiny capsule with traces of the asteroid’s dust inside.

Scientists from Japan’s space agency JAXA opened the container on Tuesday and were left impressed with the contents.

“When we actually opened it, I was speechless,” JAXA scientist Hirotaka Sawada said, as quoted by The Guardian. “It was more than we expected and there was so much that I was truly impressed.”

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Fine Powder

The quality of the sample was outstanding.

“It wasn’t fine particles like powder, but there were plenty of samples that measured several millimeters across,” Sawada added, according to The Guardian.

Organic Matter

The sample could even have implications for research into the origins of life.

Most excitingly, scientists found that the samples seemingly “contain plenty of organic matter,” as Hayabusa project scientist Seiichiro Watanabe said, according to The Guardian. “So I hope we can find out many things about how organic substances have developed on the parent body of Ryugu.”

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Half of the samples collected by the spacecraft will go to NASA and other international organizations.

Hayabusa-2 will now go on to visit two more asteroids before retirement. In 2026, the craft is planning a high-speed flyby past asteroid 1998 KY 26.

READ MORE: Asteroid samples leaves Japanese scientist ‘speechless’ [The Guardian]

More on the mission: Japanese Spacecraft Returns Asteroid Samples to Earth

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