Japan confirms asteroid gas sample from Hayabusa2 survey

The Japan Aerospace Research Agency (JAXA) on Tuesday confirmed that the gas collected from the sample tank in the re-entry capsule of the asteroid explorer, Hayabusa2, is a gas sample derived from the asteroid Ryugu.

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

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

On December 14, a sample of grains of black sand supposed to be derived from asteroid Ryugu was confirmed to be inside the sample tank. These are believed to be items attached to the entrance of the sample trap – the container in which the samples were stored.

An analysis of the collected gas inside the sample tank was conducted at the Rapid Appearance Facility established at Woomera on December 7. The results suggest that the gas differed from the Earth’s atmospheric composition, JAXA said in a statement.

For additional confirmation, a similar analysis was conducted from December 10 to 11 at the Extraterrestrial Sampling Medical Center on the JAXA Sagamihara campus. This led to the conclusion that the gas in the sample tank is derived from the asteroid Ryugu.

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

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