(AP) — They resemble small fragments of charcoal, but the soil samples collected from an asteroid and returned to Earth by a Japanese spacecraft were hardly disappointing. The asteroid pieces are rock hard and are bigger than the sandy granules the spacecraft also collected last year. The new samples described Thursday were obtained from below the surface of the distant asteroid Ryugu. A scientist says the size differences may mean the bedrock was harder at the second collection site. Scientists hope the samples will provide insight into the origins of the solar system and life on Earth. The spacecraft is now on an 11-year expedition to a even more distant asteroid for more study.