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OSIRIS-REx has brought samples of asteroid rocks that hold promising secrets to Earth

OSIRIS-REx has brought samples of asteroid rocks that hold promising secrets to Earth

Although most reports talk about return, only the return module of OSIRIS-REx landed in the US state of Utah on Sunday with collected asteroid samples. But OSIRIS-REx’s mission did not end there, as it ignited its engines and continued its journey into deep space. It will reach the asteroid Apophis near Earth in 2029.

Why do scientists study asteroids? They look like dull rocks flying through space.

However, scientists believe that these rocks could help answer questions about the beginning of the universe. In 2016, NASA sent the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft to the asteroid Bennu on a two-year fact-finding mission. why there? Scientists chose Bennu as a target for the OSIRIS-REx mission because of its composition, size, and relative proximity to Earth. Bennu is a rare B-type (primitive, carbon-rich) asteroid that is expected to contain organic compounds and hydrated minerals such as clay.

The sons
Source: MTI/EPA/NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona

After traveling more than 6.2 billion kilometers to reach Bennu and then return to Earth, the OSIRIS-REx probe launched its return capsule containing its samples on Sunday when it was about 101,000 kilometers above Earth. The capsule contains about 250 grams of rocks and other materials from Bennu

They can help answer some of scientists’ most pressing questions about the origins of life on Earth and the early days of our solar system.

Asteroid Bennu

After traveling for 27 months and covering 1.25 billion miles, NASA’s Osiris REx spacecraft has finally arrived at its destination. While flying by the asteroid Bennu, OSIRIS-REx had difficulty reaching orbit.

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“Maneuvering around a small object that has no gravity is very difficult,” they explained.

The carbonaceous asteroid Bennu has a regolith that researchers hope will be full of information. Bennu may contain molecular precursors to the origin of life and Earth’s oceans. They may also contain natural resources such as water, organic materials and precious metals.

Landing on Banur presented scientists with difficult and unexpected tasks. In 2018, the spacecraft found an asteroid that looked more like a pile of gravel and debris than a solid rock. The mission’s science team was forced to rethink the probe’s landing plan, which required reprogramming the spacecraft to land in an area less than a quarter the size of the originally planned landing site.

After a dramatic, but brief “entry,” it sampled Bennu’s surface on October 20, 2020, before beginning the long journey home.

Unit returning to Earth
Photo: Keegan Barber / Source: MTI/EPA/NASA

Once on Earth, the capsule and surrounding area were examined to ensure that OSIRIS-REx team members and rescue personnel could safely approach the capsule and examine it. The capsule was intact and was not damaged during landing.

Valuable samples from the asteroid Bennu are loaded onto a plane and flown to NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston, where the newly constructed facility awaits. The sample is then distributed to various scientific institutions and space agencies around the world. NASA keeps 70% of the sample at JSC, where it will be analyzed in the coming years. Another 25% is shared by more than 200 scientists at 35 different facilities. 4% goes to the Canadian Space Agency and another 0.5% to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

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