Status Report

Hayabusa Confirms Return of Asteroid Particles

By SpaceRef Editor
November 16, 2010
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The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has been engaged in collecting and categorizing particles in the sampler container* that were brought back by the instrumental module of the asteroid exploration spacecraft “Hayabusa.”

Based on the results of the scanning electron microscope (SEM) observations and analyses of samples that were collected with a special spatula from sample catcher compartment “A”, about 1,500 grains were identified as rocky particles, and most of them were judged to be of extraterrestrial origin, and definitely from Asteroid Itokawa.

Their size is mostly less than 10 micrometers, and handling these grains requires very special skills and techniques. JAXA is developing the necessary handling techniques and preparing the associated equipment for the initial (but more detailed) analyses of these ultra-minute particles.

* The Hayabusa sampler container consists of 2 compartments that are called “Sample Catcher A and B.

SpaceRef staff editor.