No news yet if there are specks of asteroid dust in the Haybusa sample return container.
JAXA has decided to postpone releasing any information, including publishing a detailed analysis of the particles that may have been collected. According to The Japan Times, JAXA said it is taking more time than originally expected to collect the particles because they are smaller than it was assumed they’d be. This provides some hope, however, that there is actually something of interest in the container.
Originally, JAXA had hoped to publish a report by September, but now it’s looking like December or later.
JAXA said it is going to take several hours to collect just one particle, which likely measures just a few thousandths of a millimeter in diameter. Munetaka Ueno, a senior JAXA official, said the agency wants to analyze the particles with extreme care because repeating the process will be difficult.
The original plan was for JAXA to remove the particles and then let researchers across the country for a more detailed analysis.
We waited seven years for Haybusa to fly to and then return home from asteroid Itokawa, so we should be able to wait a couple more months. Here’s hoping the particle extraction doesn’t encounter as many problems as the spacecraft had.