Press Release


Identification of origin of particles
brought back by Hayabusa

November 16, 2010 (JST)

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has been engaged in collecting and categorizing particles in the sampler container* that were brought back by the instrumental module of the asteroid exploration spacecraft "Hayabusa."

Based on the results of the scanning electron microscope (SEM) observations and analyses of samples that were collected with a special spatula from sample catcher compartment "A", about 1,500 grains were identified as rocky particles, and most of them were judged to be of extraterrestrial origin, and definitely from Asteroid Itokawa.

Their size is mostly less than 10 micrometers, and handling these grains requires very special skills and techniques. JAXA is developing the necessary handling techniques and preparing the associated equipment for the initial (but more detailed) analyses of these ultra-minute particles.

* The Hayabusa sampler container consists of 2 compartments that are called "Sample Catcher A and B.

Attchement 1: Here is the criteria we used to conclude that most of the particles from sample catcher compartment "A" are judged to be definitely from Asteroid Itokawa
Attchement 2: The special spatula observed by scanning electron microscope (SEM)
Attchement 3: A picture of scraping out "Sample Catcher A" by the special spatula
Attchement 4: Utilized Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) FE-SEM (S-4300SE/N)