Welcome home, Hayabusa.

BBC News reports on the long-awaited return of the first probe to make it out to an asteroid and back:

The Hayabusa pod was picked up by a helicopter team and transferred to a control centre on the Woomera Prohibited Area.

The canister, which is believed to hold the first samples ever grabbed from the surface of an asteroid, will now be shipped to Tokyo.

The return was the culmination of a remarkable seven-year adventure, which saw Hayabusa visit asteroid Itokawa in 2005 and attempt to pluck dust from its surface before firing its engines for home.

The $200m mission encountered many technical problems, from being hit by a solar flare to experiencing propulsion glitches. But each time an issue came up, the Japanese project team found an elegant solution to keep Hayabusa alive and bring it back to Earth – albeit three years late.

It’s only the fourth time stuff from space has been brought back home.

If a zombie plague strikes Tokyo next month, you’ll know why.