11:49 GMT18 January 2021
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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The Hayabusa2 capsule containing samples from near-Earth asteroid Ryugu has been located in Australia after a successful landing, the Hayabusa2 sample return mission operated by the Japanese space agency, JAXA, said on Twitter.

    "We found the capsule! Together with the parachute!" the mission said in the early hours of Sunday, adding in a later tweet "We have posted short videos of the re-entry capsule as it passed through the Earth's atmosphere, captured from near Coober Pedy in Australia."

    According to the Hayabusa2 mission, the capsule was found in the planned landing area at 04:47 Japan time on Sunday (19:47 GMT on Saturday), as a result of a helicopter search. The mission also said on Twitter that the helicopter carrying the capsule arrived at local headquarters and the capsule was brought inside the building.

    "The operation was perfect. We will now move into science observation operations, and observe the Earth & moon with scientific instruments," the Hayabusa2 mission said on Twitter.

    ​Video of the capsule flying in the skies above Australia was shared in social media.

    ​The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA) Hayabusa2 mission was launched in December 2014. It reached Ryugu in 2018 and collected samples in 2019, some of them from beneath the asteroid’s surface.

    On Saturday, the Hayabusa2 probe successfully released the capsule with samples, ahead of its planned descent to Earth.

    The Hayabusa2 capsule contains the first rock samples ever collected from beneath the surface of an asteroid. It is the second time that untouched material from an asteroid has been brought back to our planet and scientists expect the samples to offer clues into the origins of life on Earth.

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    Tags:
    samples, capsule, asteroid, Space, Australia, Japan's Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), JAXA, Japan
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