NASA faces a serious problem: Although its OSIRIS-REx space probe successfully collected samples from the asteroid Bennu and returned them to Earth, researchers are still unable to open the container containing pieces of the space rock.
NASA’s spacecraft made a historic landing on the surface of the asteroid Bennu in 2020 and immediately began collecting samples. The probe placed soil samples in a capsule called TAGSAM, then returned them to Earth.
The tank returned to our planet at the end of September. At first glance, the mission was a complete success, with 70.3 grams of dust on the outside of the capsule, and even more, at least 250 grams, of asteroid debris hidden inside the container.
The problem is that the space agency’s specialists are unable to open the capsule at the moment.
Opening TAGSAM is essentially a complex process. They can only be unloaded in an environment completely free of ground contamination. The work process is carried out in a special clean box designed for this purpose, with an active nitrogen flow, while wearing gloves.
The good news is that the dust stuck to the surface of the capsule was collected, but experts were not lucky with the materials stored inside the container.
TAGSAM is equipped with 35 clips, but two of them are stuck and cannot be opened under current conditions without contaminating the samples.
The team is working to develop and implement new methods to extract the material inside the head while keeping the sample safe and sound.” – It is to explain Erin Morton from NASA.
Researchers hope that the tank will be opened within a few weeks, and until then experts will examine the 70 grams of debris that have already been recovered.
OSIRIS-REx mission More than a billion dollars it costs.