First Asteroid Dust Brought to Earth Holds Clues to Planet Birth
Hayabusa is "the most incredible story and achievement," expert says.
Last week scientists confirmed that the recovery chamber aboard the Hayabusa spacecraft contained about 1,500 particles from the surface of the asteroid Itokawa.
This potato-shaped space rock is about 1,755 feet (535 meters) long and orbits about 186 million miles (300 million kilometers) from Earth. Pictures sent back from Hayabusa when it was near the asteroid suggest that Itokawa is a "rubble pile," an amalgamation of rocks held together by gravity.
(Related: "Asteroid Probe Offers New Views of Near-Earth Object.")
In June the Hayabusa probe returned to Earth. Before the main body of the craft disintegrated in Earth's