Tiny pieces of rock the size of 50-100 microns - thinner than a human hair - were taken from the asteroid Itokawa Japanese Hayabusa mission. They were carefully extracted by experts from the School of Earth, Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, University of Manchester.
This case was the first, when the samples collected on the asteroid were returned to Earth. Only 70 samples were provided for international analysis, and seven of them - to study at this university.
Hayabusa mission, studying the formation and evolution of the asteroid and collected samples from the asteroid Itokawa is 500 meters in diameter, in 2005, and took them to the planet in 2010
Itokawa is only the third celestial body from which samples have been returned to Earth. The first samples of lunar soil fragments were taken mission "Apollo", and they were followed by examples of Stardust from the comet Wild 2. All these findings were studied in the University of Manchester.
This time, the University of Manchester was re-elected for the analysis of samples - the fact that this research center are unique system for the analysis of rare gases xenon and krypton.
International teams of scientists are going to find out how fast and under the influence of any change in the processes going on the asteroid's surface, and could the asteroids like Itokawa, delivering material to the Earth in the early periods of its history.
This work will look deeper into the early history of the solar system and to explore the formation of planets, which took place more than 4.5 billion years ago.