Tiny particles from an asteroid aboard Japan's Hayabusa spacecraft. A return capsule just landed today in the Australian desert. Successful landing, but is there dust on board? The world should know after several weeks of analysis in the lab.
If there is enough dust for a sample, we'll find out more about asteroids and the origins of our solar system.
Launched from Japan's Kagoshima Space Center in 2003, Hayabusa (which means "falcon" in Japanese) visited asteroid Itokawa in 2005. A lot was learned, from photos and other readings about the asteroid. It's quite a bit different than expected. Rather than solid rock, it's more like a rubble pile.
Beset with some malfunctions, the spacecraft may have not been able to scoop up any sample. Hoping it got some at least. Amazing, after what it's been through that it still worked and at least the sample return capsule has landed safely on Earth.
Congratulations, Dust Has been found. Update added Nov. 2012.
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