Plant seeds that were taken into space last year and supposedly brought back to Earth last month on the space shuttle Discovery have gone missing, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency announced Thursday.
The 120 grams of soybeans, hops and other seeds entrusted to JAXA by a Tokyo-based science education venture were taken to the International Space Station in August last year and were stored inside Japan's Kibo laboratory module until Discovery's flight back home in April.
But JAXA was notified by NASA in late April that the seeds were missing despite records showing they were brought back to Earth by the shuttle.
The Discovery's voyage attracted much attention in Japan as it carried Japanese astronaut Naoko Yamazaki, who was in charge of checking the shuttle's cargo.
Leave a nest Co., which paid to have the seeds taken into space, was planning to use them in an event for high school students to compare the growth of plants from seeds taken into space with those on Earth. It has not disclosed the amount it paid for the contract with JAXA.
JAXA officials said the organization will investigate what happened, while the venture said it is holding talks with JAXA over the matter.