Japan space capsule carrying asteroid samples lands in Australia
Why it matters via Axios' Miriam Kramer: It's only the second time pristine asteroid material has been brought back to Earth. Sample return missions like this one are incredibly valuable to scientists.
- While the instruments onboard the spacecraft have gotten more advanced in recent years, they still pale in comparison to the tools available to researchers in labs on Earth.
Details: Hayabusa2, a robotic space probe, was launched by Japan’s space agency in 2014 to explore the Ryugu asteroid, about 180 million miles away.
- After releasing the sample capsule, the Hayabusa2 spacecraft moved away from Earth to capture images of the capsule as it set off on a new mission to another distant asteroid, AP reported.
- JAXA said it found the capsule via a helicopter search in the planned area in southern Australia later on Saturday.
What they're saying: “It was great ... It was a beautiful fireball, and I was so impressed,” said JAXA’s Hayabusa2 project manager Yuichi Tsuda, per AP.
- “I’ve waited for this day for six years.”
What's next: China has a mission that is planning to return samples from the Moon later this month.
- NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission just grabbed a sample of an asteroid that should make it back to Earth in 2023.
Editor's note: An earlier version of this article misspelled "asteroid" in the headline and first paragraph.