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Thursday, 18th November 2010
In General Japan News,

JAXA confirms asteroid dust

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has obtained cosmic rock dust from a sample collected by the Hayabusa space probe.

It is the first time such material has been recovered from an asteroid and could help scientists to further research the origin of the solar system, reports the Japan Times.

JAXA launched the unmanned probe in May 2003 and it successfully returned from the asteroid Itokawa in June this year. It is understood that some of the particles recovered measure around a thousandth of a millimetre and contain minerals such as olivine and pyroxene.

Professor Junichiro Kawaguchi, manager of JAXA's Hayabusa project, said: "Japanese scientists' efforts over a long period have been rewarded."

Researchers will now continue studying other samples collected by the probe – which returned to earth three years behind its original schedule.

JAXA was created following the merging of the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science, National Aerospace Laboratory of Japan and National Space Development Agency of Japan in October 2003.

Written by Mark Smith.