The capsule brought back by the Hayabusa2 space probe contained more than 5.4 grams of soil samples from a distant asteroid, exceeding the original target of 0.1 gram, Japan’s space agency has said.
The soil samples from the Ryugu asteroid were in three chambers of a storage container within the capsule that was returned to Earth earlier this month, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency said Friday, adding that more material was found outside the chambers.
JAXA calculated the amount by comparing the weight of the container before and after Hayabusa2 was launched into space in December 2014 bound for Ryugu, located over 300 million km from Earth.
The space probe successfully dropped the capsule over an Australian desert on Dec. 6.
The probe reached Ryugu in June 2018 and touched down on the asteroid twice last year, collecting the first-ever subsurface sample from an asteroid.
JAXA said Tuesday it opened a chamber for material collected during the probe’s first touchdown on the asteroid in February 2019 and found black particles inside.
The agency is planning to open another chamber in January at the earliest that is believed to contain samples from the second touchdown performed in July 2019, during which it attempted to collect subsurface samples little exposed to solar winds.
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