Hayabusa2 Ion thruster: The efficient ion drive is used to change orbits. One of four engines serves as a backup. Source: Wikimedia commons; DLR German Aerospace Center

NEWS BRIEFING: Hayabusa2 capsule set to land on Aussie soil with space rocks on board

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*Full recording now available* While food delivery services have been getting a good workout over the past year, space nerds around the world have eagerly awaited a different kind of package. Hayabusa2 is set for another milestone in its six-year, 5.2 billion kilometre journey this week, with its sample return capsule from the asteroid Ryugu landing right here in the Aussie desert. The Japanese explorer is carrying the first-ever sub-surface asteroid samples - one of only a few extra-terrestrial samples to have ever been brought to Earth.
Join us for an online briefing where we hear from four major players in the mission ahead of the Hayabusa2 capsule landing in Woomera on December 6.

Organisation/s: Australian Space Agency, CSIRO, Curtin University, ISAS/JAXA

Funder: N/A

Media release


  • Anthony Murfett is the Deputy Head of the Australian Space Agency
  • Professor Masaki Fujimoto is Deputy Director General of the Department of Solar System Sciences at ISAS/JAXA.
  • Andrew Seedhouse is Chief of Intelligence, Surveillance and Space Division (ISSD) at DST.
  • Dr Ed Kruzins is CSIRO Director of NASA Operations and Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex.


  • Australian Science Media Centre
    Web page
    Full briefing recording
  • Australian Science Media Centre
    Web page
    Screen capture of presenters (minus powerpoints)
  • JAXA
    Web page
    Links to live YouTube channels of weekend media briefings and Earth return live (use Google Translate)

Expert Reaction

These comments have been collated by the Science Media Centre to provide a variety of expert perspectives on this issue. Feel free to use these quotes in your stories. Views expressed are the personal opinions of the experts named. They do not represent the views of the SMC or any other organisation unless specifically stated.

Dr Eleanor Sansom, Research Associate

My colleague Dr Hadrien Devillepoix and I are currently stationed in the South Australian outback, eagerly awaiting this special delivery from asteroid Ryugu.

The Desert Fireball Network currently has cameras stationed all the way across Australia taking pictures of bright shooting stars, or fireballs, which help us to predict where a meteorite has landed on Earth -  and then we go out and try to find it.

On this occasion, we’re not watching a meteorite fall to Earth, but instead a capsule being dropped from a spacecraft, as it passes by Earth and continues on its scheduled mission.

This is only the second time anyone has ever brought back such a special delivery of pristine, untouched material, directly from an asteroid- an exciting and rare event indeed.

Ryugu is extra special as it is thought to be the type of asteroid that carbonaceous meteorites come from. If Hayabusa-2 samples match these carbonaceous meteorites, they could contain amino acids – the building blocks of life.

Last updated: 01 Dec 2020 5:10pm
Declared conflicts of interest:
None declared.

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  • Ellie Sansom
    Ellie Sansom

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  • Hayabusa2 Earth Return

    Re-entry capsule will return to Earth on December 6, 2020

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