It was a short, intense puff. Then, mud and rocks that had remained untouched for billions of years have been despatched into the air. The gathering of the rock pattern from the asteroid Bennu, far out in area, lasted simply 5 seconds. Following that, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft spent greater than two years returning to Earth.
Seven years in area
The journey, orbiting and learning the goal asteroid, accumulating samples, and the return journey – NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft can have spent over seven years in area by Sunday. And there might be a number of extra years of area journey to come back. However for now, it’s returning to Earth and is scheduled to launch its cosmic cargo right into a heat-resistant capsule over the American continent at 4:42 PM on Sunday. The capsule, considerably resembling an outsized salad bowl, will land within the Utah salt desert at 4:55 PM and might be instantly recovered by specialised groups. Contained in the capsule lies roughly 250 grams of valuable materials: the soil pattern from the asteroid Bennu.
Rock from the previous
Bennu is historic, relationship again to the early days of our photo voltaic system over 4 billion years in the past. It consists of fabric that has modified little or no since then. The asteroid is a type of rock time capsule from the previous and is extremely helpful for researchers searching for to be taught extra concerning the formation of our photo voltaic system. To gather a chunk of this treasure, the spacecraft touched the asteroid with its prolonged robotic arm in October 2020. Nitrogen fuel blown by a tube stirred up materials from depths of as much as 50 centimeters. A vacuum cleaner would not have labored within the vacuum of area, however the ‘mud blower’ carried out its job completely. Extra materials than anticipated was trapped within the assortment filter.
Largest collected asteroid pattern up to now
For NASA, that is its first mission of this sort. The Japanese area company JAXA was a pioneer in asteroid sampling. In 2010, one in every of their spacecraft achieved the feat of accumulating a minimum of a number of hundred tiny particles from an asteroid and returning them to Earth. One other Japanese spacecraft returned with 5.4 grams of asteroid materials in December 2020. OSIRIS-REx now brings the most important asteroid pattern collected to Earth, with 250 grams.
Launch and transition to a brand new mission
The pattern capsule might be indifferent from the spacecraft by way of radio command greater than 100,000 kilometers from Earth, roughly 4 hours earlier than touchdown. Because the capsule approaches Earth’s ambiance, the spacecraft’s engines will ignite, and it’ll shift to a brand new trajectory that can lead it to different asteroids. The pattern capsule is anticipated to enter the ambiance at 4:42 PM native time. Its touchdown is anticipated at 4:55 PM in a 58 by 16-kilometer goal space within the salt desert close to Salt Lake Metropolis. After retrieval, will probably be transported to a specialised laboratory by helicopter, arrange particularly for this goal on the navy base the place the touchdown web site is situated. There, the capsule might be opened, and the pattern ready for additional transport to its final vacation spot, the Johnson Area Heart in Houston.