A NASA space capsule carrying the largest soil sample ever scooped up from the surface of an asteroid streaked through Earth's atmosphere on Sunday and parachuted into the Utah desert, delivering the celestial specimen to scientists.

The gumdrop-shaped capsule, released from the robotic spacecraft OSIRIS-REx as the mothership passed within 108,000 kilometers (67,000 miles) of Earth hours earlier, touched down within a designated landing zone west of Salt Lake City on the U.S. military's vast Utah Test and Training Range.

The final descent and landing, shown on a NASA livestream, capped a six-year joint mission between the U.S. space agency and the University of Arizona. It was only the third asteroid sample, and by far the biggest, ever returned to Earth for analysis, following two similar missions by Japan's space agency ending in 2010 and 2020.