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Thursday, 8th July 2010
In Events In Japan,

Japanese scientists find asteroid dust

A spacecraft used to gather information on asteroids may have come back to earth with specks of asteroid dust, Japanese scientists have said.

The Hayabusa craft had been in space since 2003 and recently came back down to earth, crash landing in the Australian outback a few weeks ago.

Now, scientists from the Japanese space agency have said that dust found on the craft could be from asteroids. However, the dust may also have originated from elsewhere and it could take months for them to come to a conclusion.

Speaking at a conference, project chief Junichiro Kawaguchi noted that the dust particles may have become contaminated on the space craft's return to earth.

Scientists at the Japanese space agency hope to use materials collected by Hayabusa to understand more about how asteroids form and what the properties of such rocks are.

However, the early days of the mission were fraught with problems and it is as yet unclear how successful the project has been.

Written by Kimberley Homer.