Japan’s Hayabusa2 capsule bringing asteroid sample to Earth

A Japanese capsule is on its way to bring a precious sample from asteroid Ryugu which is expected to help in better understanding of the origin and evolution of the solar system.

It was confirmed from telemetry and Doppler data that Hayabusa2 re-entry capsule separated from the Hayabusa2 spacecraft as planned at 14.35 local time on Saturday, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)) said.

The landing of the capsule in Woomera in southern Australia is scheduled for Sunday, 02.00-03.00 Japan Standard Time.

As the sample container may contain a small amount of gas emitted from the Ryugu sample, a simple analysis will be conducted on-site before it is contaminated by the Earth’s atmosphere, JAXA said.

If the sample itself is able to be collected before it is oxidised, it will be brought back to Japan by charter flight before the team members. In Australia, the capsule itself will not be opened.

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

While establishing a new navigation method using ion engines, Hayabusa brought back samples from the asteroid “Itokawa” to help elucidate the origin of the solar system.

Hayabusa2 was launched on December 3, 2014.