After a six-year journey, a plucky spacecraft called Hayabusa2 zinged back into Earth's atmosphere in late 2020 and landed deep in the Australian outback
When researchers from the Japanese space agency JAXA opened it, they found its precious payload sealed and intact
Scientists have now begun to announce the first results from the analysis of this extraordinary sample.
This asteroid may be made of the same material that formed our sun 4.5 billion years ago.
The rock is similar to a class of meteorites known as "Ivuna-type carbonaceous chondrites."
Scientists said the fragments show signs of having been soaked in water at some point.
"Having pristine samples from outer space is simply incredible. They are witnesses from parts of the solar system that we have not otherwise explored."
One of the three University of Chicago researchers who worked with a Japan-led international team of scientists to analyze the fragments.
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