astroengine writes: "It's been a seven-year roller-coaster ride for the asteroid sample return mission, but JAXA — the Japanese space agency — has confirmed that 1,500 particles of dust from the surface of asteroid Itokawa have been found inside the sample return capsule. The capsule parachuted to Earth shortly before the Hayabusa spacecraft reentered over the Australian Outback in June. Since then, scientists have been painstakingly analyzing the capsule's contents to make sure the dust they found wasn't terrestrial contamination. Now they are sure, making this the first time a sample has been collected from the surface of an asteroid (and only the second time a sample has been returned from a celestial object, the first being the Moon missions)."
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