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  • Hayabusa2’s asteroid dirt may hold clues to the early solar system

For the first time, scientists are about to get their (carefully gloved) hands on asteroid dirt so old it may contain clues to how our solar system formed and how water got to Earth.

A capsule containing two smidgens of dirt from asteroid Ryugu arrived in Japan on December 7, where researchers will finally get a chance to measure how much was collected. The goal of Japan’s Hayabusa2 mission was to collect at least 100 milligrams of both surface and subsurface material, and send it back to Earth.

“Hayabusa2 is home,” said project manager Yuichi Tsuda of the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, at a news conference December 6, hours after the sample return capsule landed successfully in Woomera, Australia. “We collected the treasure box.”

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