According to an article in the NY Times, preliminary tests on the sample capsule currently being carefully opened have shown “no signs” of asteroid samples. It’s not looking good.

“Preliminary tests on a capsule retrieved from the probe have shown no signs of the precious samples of the 4.6-billion-year-old asteroid that the Hayabusa was supposed to retrieve — samples that scientists around the globe had hoped would hold new clues about the formation of the solar system,” says the Times.

But JAXA, Japan’s space agency, hasn’t given up all hope of finding trace elements of Itokawa, the third-of-a-mile long, potato-shaped asteroid it landed on in 2003.

For more on Japan’s hopes and fears for Hayabusa, check out the Times.