NASA spacecraft Osiris-Rex, which collected samples from the diamond-shaped asteroid Benu earlier this week, is littered with much debris from this week’s capture, scientists say.
Osiris-Rex philosopher Dante Loretta was quoted as saying that the mission, 200 million miles away, had collected more material than expected to return to Earth – hundreds of grams.
Bennu is a school-sized asteroid about 200 million miles (320 million km) from Earth. On the “Touch and Go” mission NASA’s Osiris-Rex spacecraft on Tuesday was able to tag the asteroid Bennu and collect a sample from its rocky surface.
The back-away burn is complete I'm now moving to a safe distance away from Bennu. pic.twitter.com/bXk2ufSneS
— NASA's OSIRIS-REx (@OSIRISREx) October 20, 2020
On Tuesday night, NASA’s robotic spacecraft Osiris-Rex made history by briefly touching the surface of the asteroid Bennu to collect samples of rock and dust.
The spacecraft was supposed to collect at least 60 grams of debris, but the images revealed that it had caught more objects than scientists expected and was scattering asteroid rocks into space.
The sample container at the end of the robot arm penetrated very deep into the asteroid and with such force pulled the rocks and split the edge of the lid. Scientists estimate that the sample was pressed 19 inches (48 cm) into rough, broken, black terrain, the news agency AP reported.
The OSIRIS-Rex mission team was scrambling to keep the collection device in place to prevent additional leakage.
“Time is of the essence,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA’s science associate administrator.
Surbuchen said it was a weak process to get the sample collection container to a safe place inside the spacecraft without removing more valuable objects, eliminating the opportunity for mission teams to measure how many objects were actually collected as planned.
NASA does not know how much material it will collect until the sample capsule returns in 2023.
The Troubleshooting Mission leaders pledged to abandon the possibility of repeating a collective effort and instead return to the spacecraft’s ground next March.
“Honestly, we could not have done a better collection experiment,” Dante Loretta of the University of Arizona was quoted as saying by Reuters. He confirmed a hearty sample size.
But with the door open with a rock and “related” images of the sample leak, “we are the victim of our success here,” he said.
Regardless of what is on board, Osiris-Rex will leave the asteroid’s orbit in March – the first possible departure, given the relative positions of Earth and Benu. Seven years after leaving the spacecraft from Cape Canaveral, samples will not be returned until 2023.
Osiris-Rex moves away from Bennu and will not orbit again, as it is waiting for the scheduled departure.
Because of the rapid turn of events, scientists do not know how long the sample capsule will last until it returns to Earth. They had originally planned to orbit the spacecraft to measure the contents, but that strategy was canceled as possible. Sprinkle more debris.
“I think we’ll have to wait until we get home to find out exactly how much we have,” Loretta told reporters. “As you can imagine, it’s hard … but the good news is that we’ll see a lot.”
Everything about NASA’s Osiris-Rex Mission
The approximately $ 800 million mini van-sized Osiris-Rex spacecraft, built by Lockheed Martin, was launched in 2016.
This is NASA’s first sample asteroid return-mission. Bennu was chosen because he believes that carbon-rich materials will hold the protective construction blocks of our solar system. Obtaining fragments from this cosmic time capsule will help scientists better understand how the planets formed billions of years ago and how life originated on Earth.
Scientists were stunned to see images coming from Osiris-Rex after successfully touching Benu two days ago.
A cloud of asteroid particles can be seen orbiting the spacecraft as it retreats from Bennu. The situation stabilized once the robot arm was locked. But it is not yet known exactly how much has been lost.
Bringing back at least 2 cases (60 grams) required an additional mission of $ 800 million.
Scientists suspect that Ben may contain substances rich in organic compounds found throughout the solar system, including life on Earth. On this asteroid, it is believed that water, another important component of the evolution of life, will be trapped in the asteroid’s minerals. Scientists will also explore Bennu’s rocks to find ways to protect Earth from asteroids. Zoom that transcends the blue planet almost every day.
New Curious Universe episode drop: Asteroid Hunting
— NASA (@NASA) October 19, 2020
Another country that has achieved this is Japan. Asteroids are one of the remnants of the formation of the Solar System 4.5 billion years ago.
Scientists say a sample could provide clues about the origin of life on Earth.
Why mission is important | NASA explains
(With inputs from AP and Reuters)
Read also | Space Wanderer: Study finds planet heavier than Earth floating freely in galaxy
Problem solver. Incurable bacon specialist. Falls down a lot. Coffee maven. Communicator.