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The successful return of a Japanese space capsule carrying surface samples from asteroid Ryugu sparked international celebration, including in Auburn where Masatoshi Hirabayashi, assistant professor of aerospace engineering, is a co-investigator of the optical navigation camera team involved in the mission. The 16-inch diameter capsule was recovered Dec. 5 in the Woomera Desert in the Australian Outback and securely delivered to the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science, part of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA. on Dec. 8. Researchers such as Hirabayashi are eager to examine its contents.

Read the full story on the successful sample return mission.