The NASA probe, orbiting an asteroid more than 100 million miles from Earth, successfully captured samples taken from the rocky surface of the celestial bodies on Tuesday (October 20), bringing home some of the first asteroid rocks from the Space Agency.
NASA’s minivan-sized OSIRIS-REx spacecraft descended for four hours toward the rough surface of the Bennu asteroid, where an acorn-shaped body formed earlier in our solar system could grab clues about the origin of life on Earth. Scientists say
At 6:12 PM EDT (22:12 GMT), the spacecraft performed a meticulous 5-second’touch-and-go’ technique by autonomously extending an 11-foot (3.35m) robotic arm towards a flat patch of roughly gravel. Basketball court size near Bennu’s North Pole
It is a spacecraft launched from the Kennedy Space Center in 2016 for the journey to Benu. It has been circling the asteroid for almost two years, preparing for a “touch and go” maneuver.
A collection device in the shape of a large showerhead, with a collection unit attached to the arm’contacting’ Bennu’s surface for 5 seconds, explodes nitrogen gas to lift off debris and cover the rocky material inside the unit’s sampling head.
Ground controllers are expected to confirm the capture of the Bennu rubble several hours after the attempt. The spacecraft can then begin its journey to Earth, which arrived in 2023, bringing back America’s first pristine asteroid rock. Japan is the only other country that has achieved this before.
The asteroid is one of the remnants left over from the formation of the solar system about 4.5 billion years ago.
Scientists believe that asteroids and comets hitting Earth in the early days would have delivered water and organic compounds that brought life to Earth. Atomic-level analysis of the Bennu sample can provide key evidence to support that hypothesis.