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NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft collects a significant amount of asteroid Bennu

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft collects a significant amount of asteroid Bennu

Washington: Two days after touching down on asteroid Bennu, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission team HAS ACTUALLY received images that validate the spacecraft has collected ample material to satisfy one of its main objective requirements– obtaining at least 2 ounces (60 grams) of the asteroid’s surface area material.

“The spacecraft caught pictures of the sample collector head as it moved through numerous different positions. In examining these images, the OSIRIS-REx group observed that the head appeared to be full of asteroid particles. Some of these particles appeared to be leaving gradually from the sample collector, called the Touch-And-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism (TAGSAM) head. They presume little bits of the product are traveling through small gaps where a mylar flap– the collector’s lid– is somewhat wedged open by bigger rocks,” stated NASA in the main declaration.

“Bennu continues to surprise us with excellent science and likewise throwing a couple of curveballs,” stated Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA’s associate administrator for science.

He included, “And although we may have to move more quickly to stow the sample, it’s not a bad problem to have. We are so ecstatic to see what appears to be an abundant sample that will inspire science for decades beyond this historical minute.”

NASA stated that the team believes it has actually collected an adequate sample and is on a path to stow the sample as rapidly as possible. They concluded after comparing images of the empty collector head with October 22 images of the TAGSAM head after the sample collection event.

“The images also show that any motion to the spacecraft and the TAGSAM instrument might cause additional sample loss. To preserve the remaining product, the mission group chose to forego the Sample Mass Measurement activity initially arranged for Saturday, October 24, and canceled a braking burn arranged for Friday to reduce any velocity to the spacecraft,” said NASA.

NASA stated that from here, the OSIRIS-Rex team would focus on stowing the sample in the Sample Return Capsule (SRC), where any loose material will be protected during the spacecraft’s journey back to Earth.

“We are working to keep up with our own success here, and my job is to return as large a sample of Bennu as possible securely,” said Dante Lauretta, OSIRIS-REx principal private investigator at the University of Arizona in Tucson, who leads the science team and the objective’s science observation preparation and information processing.

He included, “The loss of mass is of concern to me, so I’m highly encouraging the group to stow this valuable sample as rapidly as possible.”

“The TAGSAM head carried out the tasting occasion in optimal conditions. Newly available analyses show that the collector’s head was flush with Bennu’s surface area when it made contact and when the nitrogen gas bottle was fired to stir surface material. It also permeated numerous centimeters into the asteroid’s surface area material. All information up until now suggests that the collector’s head is holding a lot more than 2 ounces of regolith,” stated NASA.

“OSIRIS-REx stays in great health, and the objective group is completing a timeline for sample storage. An upgrade will be offered once a choice is made on the sample storage timing and procedures,” they added.

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