• Kyodo News

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About 13,000 people flocked to a museum Friday in Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture, to see the small capsule released by the Hayabusa space probe after its seven-year round trip to the asteroid Itokawa.

The capsule, retrieved in Australia in June, went on display Friday at the Sagamihara City Museum, nearly a month after the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency said particles had been retrieved from the specialized container inside. JAXA is examining if the particles are from the asteroid.

“I like space and science very much, so I came here to see the capsule with my own eyes,” said Masaki Shinohara, a 39-year-old company employee from Osaka Prefecture who was first in line after arriving at the museum at 4:30 a.m.

A parachute and other items related to the probe’s mission are also being displayed at the two-day exhibition, which runs from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Similar displays are scheduled for Aug. 2 to 6 at JAXA’s Tsukuba Space Center in Ibaraki Prefecture and Aug. 15 to 19 at the Oazo complex in Tokyo.

The capsule came down in the desert in Southern Australia on June 13 after being released by the JAXA probe, which burned up on re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere following the 300 million km trip to Itokawa.

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