The Japanese space probe with the first extensive asteroid samples has completed its six-year mission by safely landing in a distant Australian outback, the Japanese space agency reported on Sunday.
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) Hayabusa2 mission aims to answer some basic questions about the origin of the solar system and where molecules such as water come from.
The spacecraft, launched from Japan’s Tanegashima space center in 2014, reached the Ryugu asteroid for four years before taking a sample and returning to Earth in November 2019.
Asteroids are believed to have formed at the dawn of the solar system, and scientists say it may contain organic matter that may have contributed to life on Earth.
Early Sunday, the capsule lit as it reentered the Earth’s atmosphere and landed in a Woomer boundary area about 460 kilometers north of Adelaide, where it was found by scientists and taken to a local research station, JAXA said.
“The helicopter with the capsule arrived at the local headquarters and the capsule was brought into the building,” the agency said on Twitter.