A Japanese mission to collect the first samples of asteroid subsurface has been a success, after a capsule containing asteroid fragments was recovered in the South Australian outback after it landed safely back to Earth on Sunday.
Hayabusa2, a Japanese spacecraft, released the small capsule on Saturday and sent it towards the Earth to deliver samples taken from below the surface of Ryugu an asteroid which is about 300 million kilometers from Earth.
The collection of underground samples has been successful and scientists hope the material could shed light on how the solar system evolved.
Hayabusa2 touched down twice n Ryugu – first to collect dust samples in February 2019 and then to collect subsurface material in July of the same year. This was done after the spacecraft created a crater in the asteroid’s surface before landing in it.
The capsule descended from 220,000 kilometers away after it was separated from Hayabusa2.
JAXA officials said they hoped to conduct a preliminary safety inspection at an Australian lab before bringing the capsule back to Japan early next week.
Ryugu in Japanese means “Dragon Palace,” the name of a sea-bottom castle in a Japanese folk tale.