State of the Hayabusa Samples

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State of the Hayabusa Samples

The asteroidal particles were observed as fine particles dispersed on the interior surface of the Hayabusa sample collector. Initial attempts to remove particles individually by micromanipulators were determined to be ineffective. So far, particles have been removed in two ways: gently swabbing a Teflon spatula along the surface of the collector and by simply tapping the collector and collecting particles that fell out. An unknown number of asteroidal particles remain in the collector. The methods for storing and transporting the particles are still being worked out. In general, it is likely that small particles (<25 µm) will simply be set on clean surfaces and transferred to NASA. Such small particles are tightly bound to surfaces by electrostatic force. Larger particles and conductive samples are more challenging to work with because electrostatic forces are much weaker. However, these are valuable samples, so developing methods to safely store, transport, and manipulate these large grains are a high priority and are currently under development. Investigators should be aware that many of the particles recovered are contaminants, so some asteroidal particles may be contaminated.