17:46 GMT23 January 2021
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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Japan's Hayabusa2 space probe is expected to release a capsule containing samples from the ancient Ryugu asteroid into the Earth's atmosphere before landing in Australia later on Saturday, domestic media outlets reported, citing the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

    "We don't want to miss anything, so as soon as the capsule is back to the headquarter building we can extract the gas sample so the best science can be obtained from the precious sample we are returning from asteroid Ryugu," Fujimoto was quoted by the news outlet as saying.

    After the gas sample has been extracted, the sealed capsule will be transported to Japan for examination, the news outlet said. The specimens are expected to reveal clues into the origin of life on earth.

    The capsule includes the world's first sub-surface asteroid specimen, the Kyodo News agency cited Masaki Fujimoto, the deputy director general of JAXA's Institute of Space and Astronautical Science, as saying, adding that the samples will first be taken to an Australian Defense Force facility in Woomera.

    Preparations for the retrieval mission began in late November as a 73-member team from JAXA traveled to Australia ahead of the capsule's return to earth.

    The Hayabusa2 probe was launched in 2014 and specimens were taken from the asteroid in 2019. 

    Tags:
    capsule, asteroid, Japan
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