Hayabusa2 brings back first-ever gas sample from deep space

Japan Times -- Dec 17
Japan's space agency said Tuesday a capsule brought back by the Hayabusa2 space probe last week from a distant asteroid contained the world's first sample of a material in a gaseous state from deep space.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency said it has confirmed the presence of a "substantial amount" of soil samples from the Ryugu asteroid, located more than 300 million kilometers from Earth, in the container.

"The sample return mission has been perfectly completed," JAXA's Hayabusa2 project manager Yuichi Tsuda said in an online press conference.

The samples were brought back to Earth in a sealed metal container within the capsule, which the space probe successfully dropped over an Australian desert on Dec. 6.

Science minister Koichi Hagiuda told a separate press conference that the government hopes the mission will unravel the mystery of the origin of life, as the capsule may contain subsurface samples from the asteroid that show traces of the early solar system.

- Japan Times