It’s the first significant sample of material to be delivered to Earth from a space rock and was grabbed last year by Japan’s Hayabusa-2 spacecraft.
Researchers began opening the capsule on Monday (GMT) in Sagamihara, Japan.
The material was retrieved from an asteroid called Ryugu.
Hayabusa-2 reached the object in June 2018; it is believed to be one of the building blocks left over from the formation of the Solar System.
Scientists at the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (Jaxa) curation facility at Sagamihara have now opened one of three sample chambers inside the capsule.
This was hoped to contain particles of rock and soil from Hayabusa-2’s first touchdown on the asteroid in 2019. The spacecraft grabbed the material by firing a tantalum metal bullet into the surface and letting debris float up a collection tube under the low gravity.
Scientists had already been excited when they saw black grains from the asteroid caught at the entrance to the sample catcher (where the material is stored) on Monday. And they were not disappointed when they opened it: Inside was material ranging in size from pebbles to tiny particles of dust.
Read more: BBC