NASA to provide asteroid samples to JAXA

NASA is to provide its Japanese counterpart with samples it collected from an asteroid last year. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, expressed hopes that comparing samples from an asteroid its probe collected in 2019 will lead to new scientific results.

The OSIRIS-REx mission, or NASA's asteroid sample return project, successfully delivered a capsule that retrieved sand and other samples from asteroid Bennu in September last year. Bennu is located between the orbits of Earth and Mars.

NASA had earlier signed an agreement to provide JAXA with some of its samples within a year after the capsule returned to Earth.

Researchers at JAXA briefed reporters on Wednesday on how the agency plans to analyze the samples.

They explained that NASA will provide about 0.6 gram of the total sample weight to JAXA as early as this summer.

They said they have newly set up a clean room with instruments that allow nondestructive measurement and analysis for water content and organic matter.

JAXA's Hayabusa2 probe brought samples from asteroid Ryugu back to Earth in 2020.

Tachibana Shogo, specially appointed professor at JAXA's Astromaterials Science Research Group, said samples from the two asteroids both contain water and organic substances, but there are also differences.

He added he looks forward to analyzing the samples in the belief that "one plus one will produce results greater than two."