A fall of stardust

The Japanese space probe Hayabusa returned to Earth near Woomera, Australia around 14:00 UT today.

Why is this a big deal? Because we now (hopefully) have a pristine sample of an asteroid to examine.

Hayabusa landed on asteroid 25143 Itokawa in November of 2005. It is thought to have successfully scooped up a tiny portion of dust from the asteroid’s surface. Portions of the Hayabusa craft were designed to survive a fiery reentry, and we now have our first real sample of stardust.

A big damned day, folks.

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