The Hayabusa-2 spacecraft has successfully returned a capsule containing rock and soil samples from the asteroid Ryugu back to Earth as part of its extended mission. These samples are the first ever to be collected from below the surface of an asteroid, and it is only the second time that samples from an asteroid have been returned to Earth.
The Hayabusa-2 mission launched in December 2014 and arrived at Ryugu in June 2018 where it surveyed the asteroid for over a year and collected samples. It departed in November 2019 and made its way back towards Earth to deliver the capsule containing the samples. The capsule was released on December 5th and landed in the desert in South Australia where it was successfully retrieved by members of the Japanese Space Agency.
Scientists hope the samples can help them learn more about the origins of the solar system and life on Earth. They will also be looking to see if the materials collected will provide data on how planets are formed and if Ryugu is related to Earth in some way.
The Hayabusa-2 spacecraft will continue to explore asteroids with a scheduled fly-by of asteroid 2001 CC21 in July 2026, and a rendezvous with asteroid 1998 KY26 in July 2031.
VPT is proud to have parts on board this program and look forward to its future achievements. We congratulate everyone involved who made this historic mission a success.