NASA’s Osiris-Rex asteroid successfully touches Bennu’s surface
DENNY Kyla Perez Posted on October 26, 2020 |
The spacecraft collected samples of dust and rocks that would eventually be brought back to Earth.
NASA’s Osiris-Rex is about to touch the surface of the asteroid Benu. (Photo credit to NASA / Goddard / University of Arizona.)
NASA’s Origin, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, and the Regolith Explorer (Osiris-Rex) spacecraft successfully landed on the asteroid Bennu at 6:08 pm on Tuesday. The spacecraft traveled about half a mile (805 meters) and landed in about four hours. As soon as it came in contact with the surface, Osiris-Rex immediately went to work and quickly released a robotic arm that collects dust and pebble samples before leaving orbit. Samples will reach Earth in 2023.
About 200 million miles from Earth, Osiris-Rex’s primary sample collection site is a 52-foot-long area within a crater in the northern hemisphere of Bennu called the “Nightingale”. The Maryland team explained in August that the spacecraft was autonomously designed using pre-programmed instructions instead of following standard live commands. This is because it takes Osiris-Rex about 16 minutes to receive radio signals. Subject to the spacecraft Hard training and rehearsals Mission Day guarantees for months that it will be executed accurately.
Osiris-Rex stood three feet across the landing target, removing nitrogen gas and allowing rocks and dust to enter the storage chamber of its robotic arm. The 11-foot-long and one-foot-wide robotic arm is known as the Touch and Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism (TAGSUM). It is in contact with the surface for about six seconds, and most accumulation occurs within the first three seconds.
Osiris-Rex’s Touch and Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism (TAGSUM). (Photo credit to NASA / Goddard / University of Arizona.)
“It’s an incredible achievement today. “Part of the rock that witnessed the entire history of our solar system may now be ready to come home for generations of scientific discoveries, and we can’t wait to see what happens next.”
The asteroid Bennu is one of the oldest objects in the Solar System, containing life and minerals that contributed to the formation of most of today’s planets, including Earth. By obtaining samples of these, researchers can gain insight into how habitable worlds are being developed.
NASA intends to collect at least 60 grams of samples. Based on the preliminary analysis, the team is optimistic that the mission went as planned. Dante Loretta, principal investigator for Osiris-Rex from the University of Arizona, said more tests were needed to determine exactly how much material had been collected. A sample-mass measurement has already been scheduled and the next report will be released by October 26th. All in all, the Osiris-Rex samples will be stored and brought to Earth in 2023. It is not enough if the team thinks it is a sample, the spacecraft still has the capacity to make two sample collection attempts.
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