Scientists in Japan say they were left speechless when they saw how much asteroid dust was inside a capsule delivered by the Hayabusa-2 space probe when they opened it.
When the capsule was opened, the size of grain and pebbles which were found was unexpected, the soil samples shown on Tuesday presentation looked like dark coffee ground or black sesame seeds.
The samples were gathered from two touch downs that Hayabusa-2 made last year on Ryugu. The landings were more difficult than expected because of the asteroid’s extremely rocky surface.
The pan shaped capsule, 40 centimeters in diameter was dropped from space to a predetermined spot in sparsely populated Australian desert trip on December the 6th after six year round trip to Ryugu, more than 300 million kilometers or 190 miles from Earth.
The first landing collected samples from Ryugu’s surface and the second from underground, each was stored separately.
JAXA said that it will look into another compartment used for a second touchdown next week and will continue an initial examination ahead of later studies of material.
After studies in Japan, same of the samples will be shared with NASA and other international groups for additional research beginning in 2022.
Scientists are hoping that samples from the asteroid’s sub surface can provide information from billions of years ago that are unaffected by space radiation and other environmental factors.
JAXA scientists say that they are particularly interested in organic materials in the samples to learn about how they were distributed in the solar system and if they were related to life on Earth.