Astromaterials Newsletter – Volume 1 No. 1 March 2019
Mike Zolensky, Hayabusa Curator
JAXA is obligated to provide NASA with 10% of the recovered Itokawa samples returned to earth in 2010 by the first Hayabusa spacecraft (by a Memorandum of Agreement, and in exchange for assistance rendered to JAXA during the mission). However, because the returned sample mass was less and uniformly finer-grained than expected, even with the heroic efforts by JAXA curation scientists, NASA has been receiving samples from the JAXA Curation Facility at a steady but slow rate.
However, as the return nears of the asteroid Ryugu samples from the Hayabusa2 spacecraft (December 2020), work at JAXA on the Itokawa samples will be significantly slower or possibly even temporarily curtailed. Thus, JAXA and NASA have been exploring a rapid transfer of the remaining samples to be transferred to the latter organization.
We expect within the next year to receive over a thousand Itokawa grains, which will dramatically increase the availability of these unique samples. Please stay tuned to this newsletter for more information and increased sample availability. New Hayabusa samples announced within forthcoming issues of the Astromaterials Newsletter will be subject to the 8-week "cooling off" period before sample requests will be considered, in line with the new JSC Curation science policy memo #42 outlined in the Astromaterials News section of this volume.