Japan's Hayabusa spacecraft arrived at the near-Earth asteroid Itokawa in 2005. It stayed for two years during which time it made several attempts to collect samples during touch-and-go maneuvers. During one try, the spacecraft lost communications with Earth and crash-landed on the asteroid. Despite this, JAXA managed to return the damaged Hayabusa probe to Earth on June 13, 2010. Though its sampling mechanism had failed, thousands of tiny particles were found in one of the sample containers, most likely as a result of the spacecraft's crash. Many particles turned out to be grains from the asteroid, but they were mixed with contaminant particles from the spacecraft. Instead of returning several grams of pristine asteroid material, Hayabusa ended up collecting less a milligram. Nevertheless, these first direct samples of an asteroid proved to have great scientific value, says NASA.