Mission Hyabusa2 Collects Asteroid Samples and confirms the return to Earth with asteroid minerals, including unspecified gas.
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency said that the capsule, securely sealed and carefully packed in a container package, had arrived for examination at its Sagamihara testing facility near Tokyo.
“It’s really like a dream,” said Yuichi Tsuda, the Hyabusa2 Collects Asteroid Samples project manager. “After 5.2 billion kilometers (3.2 billion miles) of space journey which took six years, (the capsule) has returned and now it’s here with us.”
“I’m anxious to find out if the samples are really inside and how much is there,” mission manager Makoto Yoshikawa said.
Scientists believe the samples taken from under the surface of the asteroid are likely to contain data not compromised by space radiation and other environmental factors from 4.6 billion years ago. In order to learn how they have been distributed in the solar system and how they are linked to life on Earth, they are especially interested in researching organic materials in the samples.
Tsuda said he is hoping for surprises. “I’m looking forward to finding unexpected organic matter that we never thought of, those with complex molecular geometries, or minerals containing water.”