Material has been found still intact inside the crashed Genesis space capsule, say Nasa scientists.
The Genesis capsule was reduced to a "mangled mess" in the crash
Experts said on Friday they hoped the
mission to gather solar wind particles could still be largely successful.
"We should be able to meet many, if not all, of our primary science goals," said physicist Roger Wiens of the Los Alamos National Laboratory.
Wednesday's crash-landing in Utah has been blamed on a faulty battery.
The precise nature of the particles could tell scientists how the Sun and the planets grew out of a huge cloud of gas and dust 4.5 billion years ago.
Examinations, using torches and a mirror on a stick, revealed that much of the sample canister inside the wrecked capsule had remained intact.
The inner canister contained several disks which had been collecting atoms from the Sun.
Recovery lead engineer on the project, Don Sevilla, said they had some "serious compromises due to contamination".
"However, we do have our collectors and there is science to be gained from this cargo," he added.
He said the latest news contrasted with the "demoralised" feelings on the Genesis team earlier this week.
Earlier it had emerged a faulty battery was one of the likeliest causes for the crash.
The battery was designed to detonate explosive charges that would release the craft's parachutes, helping to slow its descent to Earth.
It was then supposed to be caught in midair by a Hollywood helicopter stunt pilot.
Instead, the parachutes failed to open and the capsule struck the ground at the Air Force's Utah Test and Training Range, southwest of Salt Lake City, at 310km/h (193mph).
The 205kg (420lbs) capsule was taken to a specially built clean-room at the nearby US Army Dugway Proving Ground.
The $260m Genesis mission was launched in August 2001. It is the first mission to collect cosmic material for Nasa since the Apollo 17 launch in 1972.
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