Japan’s space agency says it has confirmed the presence of black soil samples inside a capsule that the spacecraft Hayabusa2 brought back from a distant asteroid last week.
The pan-shaped capsule, 40 centimeters (15 inches) in diameter, was dropped by Hayabusa2 from space onto a spot in a sparsely populated Australian desert on December 6. It arrived in Japan last Tuesday for research that will hopefully provide insights into the origins of the solar system and life on Earth.
The capsule in the Australian outback.
Magnificent images have been released from today's discovery and recovery of the #Hayabusa2 sample return capsule in the Woomera Prohibited Area, South Australia.
— Australian Space Agency (@AusSpaceAgency) December 6, 2020
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency says its scientists opened the capsule and found an unspecified amount of sandy black particles.
“It’s obviously from Ryugu, the asteroid,” JAXA says in a statement. It says it will continue an initial examination ahead of fuller studies of the samples later.