- Paul Rincon
- BBC News Science Editor
The Australian team found and recovered a space capsule containing asteroid samples.
It is estimated that these are the first significant amounts of aerolite that can shed new light in the history of the solar system.
The capsule, which contains materials from a space rock called Ryugu, fell by a parachute near Woomera, a desert area in southern Australia.
The samples were collected by a Japanese spacecraft called Hayabusa-2, which spent more than a year exploring the asteroid.
The capsule or container detached from Hayabusa-2 before entering the Earth’s atmosphere.
Hayabusa-2’s official Twitter account reported that the container and its parachute were found this Saturday at 19:47 (GMT).
Previously, the cameras had captured images of a capsule descending “like a dazzling fireball” over the Australian city of Cober Pedy.
The container placed a parachute to slow it down.
Upon entering the Earth’s atmosphere, the capsule began to transmit information about it position.
The spacecraft finally landed in Sumera, an area controlled by the Royal Australian Air Force.
When the recovery team identified the capsule landing site, a helicopter equipped with an antenna was deployed around 18:07 GMT to locate the container.
It is now subject to a “rapid review” protocol before it is shipped to Japan.
Then a capsule of weight 16 kilograms, will be transferred to the Japan Aviation and Space Research Agency (JAXA) Sagamihara City Preservation Chamber for analysis and storage.
The Japanese mission tried to collect more than 100 milligram samples from the asteroid Ryugu.
Professor Alan Ficzimmons from Queen’s University in Belfast, Northern Ireland, explained that the sample could reveal a lot of data “not only about the history of the solar system, but also about these specific objects”.
Asteroids are essentially construction sites left over from formation Solar system.
They are made of the same material from which planets like Earth were made.
“Given the specimens of an asteroid like Ryugu, it will be really exciting for our field. We think Ryugu is made up of super old rocks that will tell us how the solar system formed,” said Professor Sarah Russell, a researcher at the Planetary Materials Group at the Museum. Natural History in London, BBC.
By studying samples taken from Ryugu, we could tell us how the constituents of water and life got to the early Earth.
Comets have long been considered carriers a lot of water In the early days of the Earth’s solar system.
Instead, Professor Fitzsimmons points out that the water chemical profile of comets differed from that of our planet’s oceans.
However, the water composition of some asteroids in the external solar system is more similar.
“Perhaps during the early solar system we were looking for comets to find out the origin of the water on Earth. Maybe we should have looked a little closer to home, in these primitive but rather rocky asteroids,” the BBC told the expert.
“In fact, this is something that will be analyzed very carefully in these Ryugu samples,” he concludes.
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