January 25, 2021

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Japan confirms its asteroid mission returned samples of space rocks

An artistic rendering of the Hayabusa2 spacecraft. | Image: DLR This morning, the Japanese Aerospace...

An artistic rendering of the Hayabusa2 spacecraft. | Image: DLR

This morning, the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, confirmed that its mission to return samples of an asteroid to Earth did indeed bring home some space rocks. Engineers at the agency found black sand they believe to be from an asteroid inside the mission’s sample container.

It’s great news for the mission, known as Hayabusa2, which launched to space in 2014. The mission sent a spacecraft to an asteroid named Ryugu to collect samples of rocks from the object’s surface and then bring them back to our planet for study. Hayabusa2 wound up scooping up materials from Ryugu twice before heading back to Earth. The vehicle arrived this month, jettisoning a canister filled with the asteroid samples, which then landed in Australia…

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