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JAXA's Hayabusa-2 probe's sample drop is seen from Coober Pedy in South Australia. Photo: Morgan Sette/Getty Images

A Japanese space capsule carrying asteroid samples landed in a remote area of Australia as planned Saturday, Japan's space agency, JAXA, said.

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.

A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this article misspelled "asteroid" in the headline and first paragraph.

Go deeper

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Jan 26, 2021 - Science

Investment in the space industry overcame the pandemic's headwinds in 2020

A SpaceX launch in 2020. Photo: SpaceX

Investment in the space industry continued to grow in the last quarter of 2020, despite the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new report from Space Capital.

Why it matters: The space industry turned out to be far more robust in the face of the pandemic than many experts were initially expecting.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse under scrutiny for elite club affiliations

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse during a Senate hearing on Capitol Hill in February. Photo: Susan Walsh-Pool/Getty Image

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) said in a statement Wednesday that he is a member of an exclusive Rhode Island sailing club that lacks diversity.

Why it matters: Whitehouse has repeatedly spoken out against systemic racism and come under scrutiny this week for his family's affiliation with elite clubs. This is the second such club accused of lacking diversity that the senator has been linked to in recent days

1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Border Democrats want migrants vaccinated

Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Tex.) Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Some Democrats representing border districts want President Biden to vaccinate migrants crossing into the U.S. — especially if he lifts public health restrictions that have prevented them from claiming asylum on American soil.

Why it matters: Inoculating migrants treads a fine line of protecting the U.S. population while possibly incentivizing more migration with the offer of free COVID-19 vaccines. Republicans are likely to pounce on that.

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