Hayabusa Sample Analysis Gets Under Way in Japan

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Asteroid samples returned to Earth last June by Japan’s Hayabusa spacecraft are undergoing scientific analysis, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) announced Jan. 17.

JAXA released the names of the 25 university scientists conducting the initial analysis of particles previously identified as rocky using scanning electron microscope observations.

Hayabusa was launched in May 2003 and landed 30 months later on the asteroid Itokowa, where it collected tiny grains of material before beginning a nearly five-year journey back to Earth.