Seven years ago, NASA launched the OSIRIS-REx mission aimed at the asteroid Bennu, and now it’s time for an exciting conclusion to this journey. In a few weeks, samples from the asteroid collected by the spacecraft in 2020 will return to Earth.
The moment that has been waited for many years will soon be seen by the whole world. On the eve of the momentous event, NASA released a trailer showing the key moments of the mission, including the incredible moment when the spacecraft landed on the asteroid Bennu, which was moving at a speed of 100 thousand km/h, at a distance of more than 300 million kilometers from Earth.
When the spacecraft with samples approaches Earth on September 24, it will release a capsule with samples collected from Bennu. At the final stage of the epic journey, the capsule will open its parachute and descend to the Department of Defense testing and training ground in Utah, where the OSIRIS-REx team will be waiting for it to pick up samples.
A post on NASA’s website describes how members of the mission team have recently modeled the procedures they will soon follow in reality, including navigating the spacecraft to Earth, instructing on the release of the capsule with the asteroid sample, observing the capsule during its passage through the atmosphere, quickly removing a sample from the ground to prevent it from being contaminated from the environment, and finally transporting it by helicopter to a clean room.
Nicola Fox, deputy administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, said that the untouched material from the asteroid Bennu would help shed light on the formation of our Solar System 4.5 billion years ago, and perhaps even on how life on Earth originated.
Although the return of a sample from an asteroid will be the first for NASA, this feat has already been accomplished twice by two Japanese missions that successfully delivered samples from different asteroids in 2010 and 2020, respectively.
According to NASA
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