Japanese space agency officials said Thursday they found particles of various sizes from a sample of the Hayabusa2 spacecraft, which was returned this month from a distant asteroid, a mission they praised as a milestone in planetary research.
The particles from section A collected during the first contact were visibly smaller than the particles from section C that were collected during the second contact. Japan’s space agency announced earlier this month that it had found more than the predicted amount of soil and gases inside the capsule.
“There may be several reasons why these (particles) are large, but one possibility is that the site during the second contact was a hard surface, so the larger particles cracked and entered section C,” said Tomohiro Usui, JAXA manager. -ine Astromaterials Science Research Group.
A slide from the JAXA presentation also indicated the possible presence of an “artificial object,” but Usui did not comment on it. A 40-centimeter-diameter pan-shaped capsule, Hayabusa2 launched from space into a pre-determined location in the sparsely populated Australian desert on December 6 at the end of his six-year voyage to Ryug, more than 300 million kilometers (190 million miles) from Earth. The capsule arrived in Japan earlier this month for research that scientists hope will provide insight into the origin of the solar system and life on Earth.
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