The Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) confirmed on Tuesday that the gas collected from the test container inside the asteroid explorer’s re-entry capsule, Hayabusa2, is a sample of gas from the Ryugu asteroid.
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, it was confirmed that a sample of black sand grains derived from the asteroid Ryugu is in the sample container. It is believed that these are particles attached to the entrance of the sample collector – the container in which the samples were stored.
An analysis of the gas collected in the sample container was performed at the Quick Look Facility set up at Woomera on December 7th. The results suggest that the gas differs from the Earth’s atmospheric composition, JAXA said in a statement.
For further confirmation, a similar analysis was performed between December 10-11 at the Alien Evidence Cleanup Center on the JAXA Sagamihara campus. This led to the conclusion that the gas in the sample container is derived from the asteroid Ryugu.
This is the first evidence of the return of a gaseous material from deep space in the world. Hayabusa2 was launched on December 3, 2014.
Asteroid Explorer “Hayabusa2” is a successor to “Hayabusa” (MUSES-C), which unveiled several new technologies and returned to Earth in June 2010.