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AELERT Strategic Plan 2021 - 2024



The new AELERT Strategic Plan-on- a-page is now available online.








Does an asteroid need to clear biosecurity?


Over the past two years, Biosecurity staff in the Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment (DAWE) have been working with the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and the Australian Space Agency (ASA) to manage potential biosecurity risks associated with an incoming asteroid sample.

​​​​​​​In 2014, JAXA launched a spacecraft to collect a sample from the near-Earth asteroid Ryugu. After 2,194 days in space, and travelling over 5.3 billion kilometres the spacecraft “Hayabusa 2” released a capsule containing a sample up to 1 gram of dust and gas safely back to earth in the early hours of Sunday 6 December. The capsule re-entered Earth’s atmosphere at 42 times the speed of sound or 12 kilometres per second, making it one of the fastest human-made objects ever to re-enter the atmosphere (alongside Stardust and, of course, the original Hayabusa capsule). The fireball over Coober Pedy, where it landed was spectacular which can be seen  here.

27151 Helicopter with precious cargo 56548 Precious cargo

This exercise has seen a combined effort from DAWE imports and traveller teams to ensure all biosecurity measures are in place for the landing. 

The Laboratory & Human Tissues section in Animal Division has played a critical role to ensure that any potential biosecurity risks associated with the samples are being managed. As JAXA and their scientists are hoping to recover biological material from the samples, it was important that we considered the possible risks to Australia and its environment. The best outcome for managing risk was to ensure the samples are not exposed to our environment and that they are exported. After arrival, the capsule and the samples will be taken to a mobile facility for inspection and gas extraction. The capsule and all samples will be immediately exported to Japan via a chartered aircraft departing from Woomera. 

​​​​​​​The Traveller Policy and Reform section has been working with ASA, JAXA and NASA to ensure the Japanese and US personnel arriving into the country comply with our biosecurity requirements regarding their equipment, personal goods and aircraft. This includes the clearance of around 80 JAXA and 40 NASA personnel into the country along with their aircraft and equipment.

63911 Mission control room 2