NASA’s spacecraft succeeded in collecting samples from asteroid Bennu in what it seemed to be, the most daring challenge. But that’s not all. There are also some concerns.
OSIRIS-REx’s sample was so big that it blocked the container door of the collector. According to the space agency, the blockage caused some asteroid matter to escape back out into space.
Here is what you need to know.
OSIRIS-REx Mission Results
OSIRIS-REx has completed its challenging task on October 20. The spacecraft’s robotic arm touched the asteroid Bennu for only a couple of seconds to gather the necessary dust and rock samples. But there is an issue.
The collected samples were trapped in a device dubbed the collection head. The space agency detected that the door of the device is blocked. Such a problem caused some asteroid material loss.
And because of that, NASA decided to change the timeline a bit for completing the next step in operation.
What to Expect
NASA decided that the next operation will include storing the collection head in a safe capsule within OSIRIS-REx. This process will be realized in a series of steps.
After every step, OSIRIS-REx will send data back to NASA. The whole process will be supervised.
OSIRIS-REx is so far away that it needs approximately 18 minutes to reach Earth. Any communication from ground controllers needs the same amount, and because of this, the storing process is expected to take several days.
NASA thinks the operation succeeded in capturing up to 400 grams of asteroid matter. Such a result is far more than what the space agency expected (60 grams).
However, mission leaders stated that they don’t know yet how much sample is inside until the capsule returns to Earth. They planned to develop a method to measure the sample precisely.
Unfortunately, that was canceled. NASA explained it could have caused even more matter to escape.
More details will be released in the coming weeks.
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