CAPSULE RETURNS TO JAPAN FOR ANALYSIS OF ASTEROID SAMPLES
A small capsule from the Hayabusa2 space probe hopefully containing soil samples from a distant asteroid arrived in Japan on Tuesday for research into the origins of life and the evolution of the solar system, Kyodo news service reported.
Two days after being retrieved from the Australian desert, the capsule, carefully stored in a metal container, was transported by truck to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Sagamihara Campus in Kanagawa Prefecture from Tokyo's Haneda airport, where a chartered plane carrying it touched down early in the morning.
"The samples are now in a safe environment," JAXA Vice President Hitoshi Kuninaka said at a press conference after the capsule was brought into the facility at 11:27 a.m., with a crowd of excited researchers and local residents welcoming its arrival at the gate.
Related Story: "Japan Space Probe with Asteroid Rocks Lands in Australia"
"We would like to conduct a thorough analysis," Kuninaka said. While the six-year mission has so far proceeded smoothly, he revealed that the agency had considered changing the date for retrieving the capsule due to the coronavirus pandemic. "But we made the decision to show the world that we were ready to recover (the capsule) at any cost," he said.
A sealed container within the capsule, believed to be with samples from the Ryugu asteroid, about 300 million kilometers away from Earth, will also enable trapped gases to be analyzed.