Hayabusa - Confirmation of Asteroid Particles

Confirmation of Asteroid Particles

On 16 November 2010, JAXA confirmed that most of the particles found in one of two compartments inside the Hayabusa sample return capsule came from Itokawa. Analysis with a scanning electron microscope identified about 1,500 grains as rocky particles, according to the JAXA press release. After further studying the analysis results and comparison of mineral compositions, most of them were judged to be of extraterrestrial origin, and definitely from the asteroid Itokawa.

According to Japanese scientists, the composition of Hayabusa's samples was more similar to meteorites than known rocks from Earth. Their size is mostly less than 10 micrometers. The material matches chemical maps of Itokawa from Hayabusa's remote sensing instruments. The researchers found concentrations of olivine and pyroxene in the Hayabusa samples.

Further study of the samples had to wait until 2011 because researchers are still developing special handling procedures to avoid contaminating the particles during the next phase of research.

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