On 14 December the pan-shaped capsule, 40 centimetres (15 inches) in diameter, was opened for the first time since its touchdown in Australia on 6 December, with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) confirming its staff had spotted black particles on the bottom of the capsule’s sample catcher.

On Tuesday, as they hailed the mission as a milestone in planetary research, JAXA revealed that scientists found more of the soil and gas samples in a compartment that stored them from the first of Hayabusa’s two touchdowns on the asteroid in 2019.



Read more…