The Hayabusa spacecraft arrived at S-type Asteroid 25143 Itokawa in November 2006, and reveal astounding features of the small asteroid (535 x 294 x 209 m). Near-infrared spectral shape indicates that the surface of this body has an olivinerich mineral assemblage potentially similar to that of LL5 or LL6 chondrites with different degrees of space weathering. Based on the surface morphological features observed in high-resolution images of Itokawa s surface, two major types of boulders were distinguished: rounded and angular boulders. Rounded boulders seem to be breccias, while angular boulders seem to have severe impact origin. Although the sample collection did not be made by normal operations, it was considered that some amount of samples, probably small particles of regolith, was collected from MUSES-C regio on the Itokawa s surface. The sample capsule was successfully recovered on the earth on June 13, 2010, and was opened at curation facility of JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency), Sagamihara, Japan. A large number of small particles were found in the sample container. Preliminary analysis with SEM/EDX at the curation facility showed that at least more than 1500 grains were identified as rocky particles, and most of them were judged to be of extraterrestrial origin, and definitely from Asteroid Itokawa. Minerals (olivine, low-Ca pyroxene, high-Ca pyroxene, plagioclase, Fe sulfide, Fe-Ni metal, chromite, Ca phosphate), roughly estimated mode the minerals and rough measurement of the chemical compositions of the silicates show that these particles are roughly similar to LL chondrites. Although their size are mostly less than 10 m, some larger particles of about 100 m or larger were also identified. A part of the sample (probably several tens particles) will be selected by Hayabusa sample curation team and examined preliminary in Japan within one year after the sample recovery in prior to detailed analysis phase. Hayabusa Asteroidal Sample Preliminary Examination Team (HASPET) has been preparing for the preliminary examination with close cooperation with the curation team.
Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration
42nd Lunar and Planetary Science Conference; 7-11 Mar. 2011; The Woodlands, TX; United States