A Japanese space probe dropped a capsule containing two samples from the 4.6-billion-year-old Ryugu asteroid above Earth on Saturday, as scientists await the arrival of materials that could help explain the origin of life.

The capsule, released from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Hayabusa2 space probe, is due to re-enter Earth's atmosphere early Sunday before landing in a desert in southern Australia, according to JAXA.

The specimens, which are estimated to weigh 1 gram in total, include the world's first subsurface asteroid sample. Scientists hope the primordial materials will help further research into the origin of life on Earth and the evolution of the solar system.