The Hayabusa2 spacecraft explored C-type near-Earth asteroid (162173) Ryugu and returned asteroidal materials, collected during two touchdown operations, to the Earth as the first sample from carbonaceous-type asteroid. The sample container, in which ~5 g of Ryugu sample was enclosed, was safely opened in the clean chamber system with no severe exposure to the terrestrial atmosphere. In the course of preparation operation of the sample container, two dark-colored millimeter- to sub-millimeter-sized particles were found outside the sealing part of the sample container. Because they look similar to the Ryugu particles inside the sample container, the particles were named as Q particles (Q from questionable). In this study, we investigated Q particles (Q001 and Q002) mineralogically and petrographically to compare them with potential contaminants (the ablator material of the reentry capsule and fine sand particles at the capsule landing site), Ryugu sample, and CI chondrites. The Q particles show close resemblance to Ryugu sample and CI chondrites, but have no evidence of terrestrial weathering that CI chondrites experienced. We therefore conclude that the Q particles are originated from Ryugu and were expelled from the sample catcher (sample storage canister) in space prior to the enclosure operation of the sample catcher in the sample container. The most likely scenario is that the Q particles escaped from the sample catcher during the retrieval of the sample collection reflector, which was the necessary operation for the sample container closing.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Geochemistry and Petrology