Japan confirms asteroid gas sample from Hayabusa2 probe

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) confirmed on Tuesday that the gas collected from the sample container inside the reentry capsule of the asteroid explorer Hayabusa2 is a gas sample from asteroid Ryugu.

The Hayabusa2 re-entry capsule was recovered in Woomera, Australia on December 6 and delivered to the JAXA Sagamihara campus in Japan on December 8.

Work then began to open the sample container inside the re-entry capsule.

On December 14, a sample of black sand grains thought to have come from the asteroid Ryugu was confirmed to be inside the sample container. These are believed to be particles attached to the entrance to the sample collector, the container in which the samples were stored.

An analysis of the gas collected inside the sample container was performed at the Quick Look Facility set up in Woomera on 7 December. The results suggest that the gas differed from the Earth’s atmospheric composition, JAXA said in a statement.

For further confirmation, a similar analysis was performed on 10 and 11 December at the Extraterrestrial Sample Curation Center on the JAXA Sagamihara campus. This led to the conclusion that the gas in the sample container was derived from the asteroid Ryugu.

This is the world’s first return sample of a gaseous material from deep space. Hayabusa2 was launched on December 3, 2014.

Asteroid Explorer “Hayabusa2” is a successor to “Hayabusa” (MUSES-C), which revealed several new technologies and returned to Earth in June 2010.