The Japanese Hayabusa mission has returned to Earth with the first samples taken from the surface of an asteroid. A recovery team has found the capsule in Woomera Prohibited Range in South Australia, after a dramatic reentry into the Earth’s atmosphere where the main spacecraft was destroyed causing a brilliant light show. “We just had a spectacular display out over the Outback skies of South Australia,” said Professor Trevor Ireland, from the Australian National University, who will be working with the samples. The Hayabusa mission was supposed to return in 2007 after collecting samples from the asteroid Itokawa, however its mission was delayed due to technical difficulties. Scientists hope the samples will give clues about the early history of the solar system and the formation of planets.
Monday, June 14, 2010