- Title: JAPAN: Scientists find asteroid dust in space probe
- Date: 17th November 2010
- Summary: TOKYO, JAPAN (2010) (REUTERS) MEMBERS OF SPACE RESEARCH TEAM TAKING SEATS AT NEWS CONFERENCE JAXA SIGN MEMBERS SEATED AT NEWS CONFERENCE (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) JUNICHIRO KAWAGUCHI, ASTEROID PROBE "HAYABUSA" PROJECT MANAGER, SAYING: "It's unbelievable, and I feel as if my dream has come true as we confirmed some 1,500 particles were actually from the asteroid Itokawa." RESEARCHERS SEATED AT CONFERENCE CAMERAMAN AND PHOTOGRAPHER (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) TAKAAKI NOGUCHI, MEMBER OF ASTEROID PROBE "HAYABUSA" PROJECT, SAYING: "There are good chances that substances from other space objects are piled on the surface of the asteroid as dusts." JOURNALIST TAKING NOTES (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) AKIO FUJIMURA, MEMBER OF ASTEROID PROBE "HAYABUSA" PROJECT, SAYING: "In that no other countries haven't yet succeeded in collecting samples directly from an asteroid before us, I believe Japan gained a significant advance in developing technologies of collecting space samples on top of the basis of its very active meteorite science." RESEARCHERS BOWING AT THE END OF CONFERENCE RESEARCHERS SHOWING SAMPLE-COLLECTING PARTS FROM HAYABUSA AND MOCK MODEL OF ITS CAPSULE VARIOUS HAYABUSA PARTS BEING SHOWN
- Embargoed: 2nd December 2010 11:20
- Location: Japan
- Country: Japan
- Topics: Space
- Reuters ID: LVAE4G8H81A8RVXZR41BMB7L3ZX9
- Aspect Ratio: 4:3
- Story Text: Scientists said on Tuesday (November 16) that samples found inside the Japanese space probe Hayabusa, which returned to earth earlier this year, were confirmed to be from the surface of an asteroid, thrilling researchers who say that this is the first extraterrestrial material a spacecraft has brought home since the moon landings.
Japan's space agency JAXA announced that it found some 1,500 particles, most really tiny or several micrometers in diameter, inside the sample container of the probe that landed in the Australian outback on June 14, 2010 after a 7-year voyage to Itokawa, a near-earth asteroid who's elliptic orbit crosses both Earth's and Mar's.
After 5 months of examination, the agency was finally able to confirm that these samples were not earthly dust particles, based on their compositions.
"It's unbelievable, and I feel as if my dream has come true as we confirmed some 1,500 particles were actually from the asteroid Itokawa," said Junichiro Kawaguchi, the manager of the project at a news conference in Tokyo.
Researchers backed their finding with data collected by remote sensors attached to the outside of the probe. The lack of volcanic rock elements, commonly found on earth, also supported their conclusion that the the data was from the asteriod.
Scientists hope it could unlock secrets of the solar system's formation or of the origins of life. Some also believe knowing the physical characteristics of near-Earth asteroids would be useful should anymore fall to earth.
Takaaki Noguchi, a member of the team said the samples may also contain information from other planets.
"There are good chances that substances from other space objects are piled on the surface of the asteroid as dust," said Noguchi.
There is still a question as to whether the collected dust is from the Itokawa asteroid or from another it picked up in space. Researchers say it will be several months until all the data is analyzed, but for now, the findings have Japanese scientists very happy.
"In that no other countries haven't yet succeeded in collecting samples directly from an asteroid before us, I believe Japan gained a significant advance in developing technologies of collecting space samples on top of the basis of its very active meteorite science," said Akio Fujimura, another member of the team.
Hayabusa, which means falcon in Japanese, landed on the irregularly shaped asteroid in 2005. After landing on the jellybean shaped asteriod about 500 meters ( 546 yards) across at it's longest, the probe returned to earth, burning up in the atmosphere after releasing it's precious cargo in an air-tight container which then landed in the desert near the Woomera weapons testing range in South Australia state.
The Hayabusa captured the Japanese public's attention as it was believed at first to have failed in its mission because it's thrusters didn't work. Its adventures and the way it burned up in the sky before releasing its contents struck a chord with Japanese culture which values preserverence and self-sacrifice.
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