Hayabusa asteroid mission returns to Earth

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London, June 14 (ANI): The Japanese Hayabusa container, believed to be carrying the first samples of an asteroid's surface, has returned to Earth.

According to a recovery team, the capsule landed in the Woomera Prohibited Range, south Australia.

"We just had a spectacular display out over the Outback skies of South Australia," The BBC quoted Prof Trevor Ireland, from the Australian National University, who will work on the samples, as saying.

Ireland added: "We could see the little sample-return capsule separate from the main ship and lead its way in; and [we] just had this magnificent display of the break-up of Hayabusa."

The Hayabusa mission was launched to asteroid Itokawa in 2003, spending three months at the 500m-long potato-shaped space rock in 2005.

The main spacecraft, alongwith the sample-storage capsule, should have been back in 2007, but a string of technical problems delayed their return by three years.

Uncertainty looms large even now whether the capsule does contain the pieces of Itokawa. (ANI)

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