Extraterrestrial Sample Curation Center

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The Extraterrestrial Sample Curation Center (ESCuC) is the facility where Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) conducts the curation works of extraterrestrial materials retrieved by some sample-return missions. They work closely with Japan's Astromaterials Science Research Group. Its objectives include documentation, preservation, preparation, and distribution of samples. All samples collected are made available for international distribution upon request.[1]


The conceptual studies for JAXA's curation facility begun in 2005, the specifications were decided in 2007, and the facility was completed in 2008 in time to receive the asteroid samples retrieved by the Hayabusa mission. [2] This facility is rated Biosafety level 3. The key feature of JAXA's ESCuC curation facility is the ability to observe, take out a portion and preserve a precious return-sample, without being exposed to the atmosphere and other contaminants.[2] This facility is able to handle particles as small as 10 μm by using a system based on electrostatic micromanipulation within a clean chamber in contact with either vacuum or an inert gas.[2]

The facility also features a wide variety of laboratories and analyzers, including XCT/XRD, TEM/STEM, EPMA, SIMS, FTIR, Raman, NAA, noble-gas-MS, and ToF-SIMS.[2]


Samples include:

Future samples expected

Similar facilities[edit]

Other facilities dedicated to the curation of extraterrestrial samples are the NASA Johnson Space Center Astromaterials Acquisition and Curation Office (Biosafety level 3),[6][7][8] and the planned European Sample Curation Facility (ESCF).[9][10] The European facility, to be located in Vienna, is planned to curate non-restricted samples (Moon, asteroids, comets, space dust, etc.) as well as Biosafety level 4 containment of restricted potentially biohazard material from Mars, Europa, etc.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Sample Request. Extraterrestrial Sample Curation Center, JAXA.
  2. ^ a b c d Current status of JAXA’s Extraterrestrial Sample Curation Center. (PDF). M. Abe, T. Yada, M. Uesugi, Y. Karouji, A. Nakato, K. Kumagai, and T. Okada1. 2014.
  3. ^ Available meteorites and standard samples. Extraterrestrial Sample Curation Center, JAXA.
  4. ^ OSIRIS-REx Project - Sample Curation. Extraterrestrial Sample Curation Center, JAXA. Accessed: 2 September 2018.
  5. ^ Hayabusa2 Project. Extraterrestrial Sample Curation Center, JAXA.
  6. ^ Curating NASA's extraterrestrial samples—Past, present, and future. Carlton Allen, Judith Allton, Gary Lofgren, Kevin Righter, Michael Zolensky, etal. Chemie der Erde - Geochemistry. Volume 71, Issue 1, 2011, Pages 1-20. doi:10.1016/j.chemer.2010.12.003
  7. ^ Curating NASA's Future Extraterrestrial Samplke COllections: How do we achieve maximum proficiency? (PDF). Francis McCubbin, etal. 41st COSPAR Scientific Assembly 2016.
  8. ^ Mobile/Modular BSL-4 Facilities for Meeting Restricted Earth Return Containment Requirements. M. J. Calaway, F. M. McCubbin, J. H. Allton, R. A. Zeigler, and L. F. Pace. (PDF) NASA. 2017.
  9. ^ a b EURO EURO-CARES Extraterrestrial Sample Curation Facility: Architecture as an enabler of science. (PDF) Aurore Hutzler, Emre Kilic, Allan Bennett, Ludovic Ferrière. 47th International Conference on Environmental Systems, 16-20 July 2017, Charleston, South Carolina. Paper ICES-2017-323.
  10. ^ EURO-CARES. European Curation of Astromaterials Returned from Exploration of Space. Accessed: 25 September 2018.