Nasa spacecraft Osiris-Rex has successfully landed on an asteroid, dodging boulders the size of buildings, to collect a handful of cosmic rubble and dust samples for analysis back on Earth.
NASA’s team behind the Osiris-Rex project issued a statement that the preliminary data showed the sample collection went as pre-planned and the spacecraft had now lifted off the surface of asteroid Bennu.
The scientific and space enthusiasts have been long-awaited this event and #ToBennuAndBack remains the top hashtag for more than three days on Twitter.
Today, the Osiris-Rex spacecraft sent back confirmation of its brief contact with asteroid Bennu more than 200m miles (322m km) away, drawing cheers from the mission team. But it will take a week or so before scientists know how much, if anything, is grabbed, or nothing at all and another try will be needed. According to NASA’s officials, If successful, Osiris-Rex will return the samples in 2023.
The asteroid Bennu is just 1,670 feet across, and its gravity was too low for Osiris-Rex to land, which forced the spacecraft had to reach out with its 3.4-meter robot arm and attempt to grab at least 2 ounces (60 grams) of Bennu.
Therefore, on Bennu, the Osiris-Rex spacecraft took around four-and-a-half hours to successfully landed down from its tight orbit to the surface, following the commands sent well by ground controllers located near Denver.
According to the resources, this US mission follows one run by Japan’s Hayabusa2, which is due to return to Earth in December 2020 and is bearing samples collected from the 4.5bn-year-old asteroid Ryugu back in May 2019. When it lands in the Australian desert as planned, it will be the first ever sub-surface asteroid sample to return to Earth.
The Dynamic and Energetic team Scientia.