The return capsule carrying the asteroid samples grabbed by Hayabusa-2 from Ryugu successfully parachuted down in the outback of Australia today.
Officials from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, confirmed shortly after 1 p.m. EST (1800 GMT) that the Hayabusa 2’s nearly 16-inch (40-centimeter) sample carrier landed in Australia. Touchdown likely occurred several minutes earlier.
Recovery teams dispatched via helicopter began hunting for the 35-pound (16-kilogram) capsule using estimates of its landing site derived from a radio beacon signal. Mission managers expected it could take several hours to find the capsule and recover it. The landing occurred before dawn in Australia.
Since the article above was posted the capsule was located, and it was found much quicker than first expected.
This was the second sample return mission by the Japanese. The first, Hayabusa-1, successfully returned its capsule in 2010, but because of many technical problems during the mission it only brought back a few microscopic samples. In fact, the technical problems were so bad it was really a miracle the capsule came back at all.
Hayabusa-2 however has been a complete success, showing that they learned from the first mission and applied those lessons to the second.
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