NASA’s OSIRIS-REx succeeded in touching down on asteroid Bennu’s surface, after a long journey of four years. This week marks the incredible milestone OSIRIS-REx bravely reached.
The TAG procedure (Touch-And-Go) was conducted by Lockheed Martin Space in Denver, Colorado, at 6:12 PM (22.12 GMT). The first insights on OSIRIS-REx’s task and other significant details are now available.
Now, we have to wait for the spacecraft comeback.
Here is what you need to know.
OSIRIS-REx’s Mission Explained: What Should You Know
OSIRIS-REx’s mission was 12 years in development and needed only 6 seconds to be done.
Scientists expect to collect a lot of information, including a glimpse of what the Solar System was like billions of years ago. They’re also expecting more data about our origins.
The TAG procedure
OSIRIS-REx succeeded in slowing down and crawling 10 centimeters/s on the last stage of its descent into the Nightingale crater on Bennu’s north pole, of approximately 490 meters (a bit bigger than the Empire State Building).
Then, the spacecraft’s robotic arm reached a target of 8 meters to fire pressurized nitrogen. Such a thing was needed to mix the surface material and grab a sample.
Finally, OSIRIS-REx fueled its engines and went away from Bennu’s surface.
After 18.5 minutes, the mission was confirmed as a success. The first images will soon be available once the probe is further away and reaches a more reasonable data transmission rate.
Scientists will find this Saturday (October 24) if OSIRIS-REx has collected the needed amount of dust. Their goal is at least 60 grams of dust, but the spacecraft was designed to collect up to 2 kilograms. The data obtained will be the most valuable piece of information hold by scientists so far.
In the worst-case scenario, OSIRIS-REx must return on January 12, 2021, and perform another TAG procedure. Let’s keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best to happen!
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