After four years of travel, NASA’s robotic spacecraft OSIRIS-REx on Tuesday collected a sample of rock and dust in an accurate operation 200 million miles (330 million kilometers) from Earth on the boulder-gray surface of the asteroid Bennu Touched briefly.
The so-called “touch-and-go” or TAG maneuver was managed by Lockheed Martin Space in Denver, Colorado, where at 6:12 pm (2212 GMT) an announcer said: “Touchdown declared. Sampling continues.” Scientists erupted in celebration.
The historic mission was 12 years in the making and rested at a critical period of 16 seconds, where the spacecraft performed a delicate autonomous maneuver to grab its precious payload: at least 60 grams (two ounces), or a candy of regolith. -Size amount scientists hope that will help to know the origin of our solar system.
If OSIRIS-REx successfully makes it home in September 2023, it will collect the largest specimens returned from space since the Apollo era.
“We think we can actually come back with a baby picture of the solar system, which was like our chemistry,” NASA scientist Michelle Theler said.
“We are seeking our own origins, and that is why we have gone so far as to bring back Bituen.”
The spacecraft, about the size of a large van, slowed to a crawl of just 10 centimeters (four inches) per second in the nightingale crater at the asteroid’s north pole in the final stages of its descent, measuring 490 meters (1,600 ft). ) in diameter.
For size comparison, which is slightly larger than the Empire State Building.
OSIRIS-REX pushed its robotic arm down to a target area of only eight meters (26 ft), then fired pressurized nitrogen to excite the surface material and hold its sample.
The spacecraft then fired its thrusters to back away from Benue’s surface, which scientists described as a “boop”.
Mission control and the public learned all of this after 18.5 minutes, as it was actually due to the time it took for signals to return from space rock, which for the most part orbited between Venus and Mars.
The first image will only be available on Wednesday when the probe is further away and the data transmission rate will be higher.
We will have to wait until Saturday to find out if OSIRIS-REx has been successful in collecting the desired amount of dust.
Scientists want at least 60 grams, but the spacecraft is capable of taking as little as two kilograms, or five pounds.
If it finds that the spacecraft has not collected enough, it will be on 12 January 2021 at a backup site, another relatively boulder-free zone near the equator of the rock.
Scientists are interested in analyzing the structure of asteroids in the solar system because they are made of the same materials that constitute the planets.
NASA’s chief scientist, Thomas Zurbuchen, said, “It is almost a Rosetta stone, which originated from there and tells the history of our entire Earth about the solar system during the last billions of years.”
Lori Glaze, director of NASA’s Department of Planetary Sciences, said that laboratories on Earth would be able to perform much higher-level analyzes of their physical and chemical characteristics.
Not all samples will be analyzed immediately, such as those brought back from the Moon by Apollo astronauts, which NASA is still opening 50 years later.
NASA chose this particular asteroid because it is conveniently close and ancient as well: scientists calculated that it formed 4.5 billion years ago in the first 10 million years of our solar system’s history.
After arriving at the reef OSIRIS-REx in late 2018, the project team was surprised to receive photos showing that it was sometimes covered with pebbles and boulders 30 meters high.
Last year, Japan became the first country to collect some dust from Ryugu to touch the asteroid after examining Hayabusa 2, and is now on its way home.
NASA investigates Osiris-Rex set to ‘kiss’ Bennu asteroid in historic mission
© 2020 AFP
Quotes: NASA Investigates Asteroid Beanu ‘Boops’ at OSIRIS-REx Historical Mission (2020, 21 October) on 21 October 2020 https://phys.org/news/2020-10-nasa-probe-osiris-rex-boops-asteroid Retrieved from. .html
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