A team of astronomers affiliated with the US Aerospace and Aviation Agency (NASA) announced that the “Osiris-Rex” spacecraft was able for the first time to touch the asteroid “Bennu” and collect samples of gravel and dust, which is scheduled to return to Earth in 2023.
Since the OSIRIS-Rex mission was launched in September 2016 and reached the target asteroid in December 2018, it has had one target and that is what NASA astronomers call a “touch-and-go” operation.
This process means that the spacecraft takes an orbit around the asteroid, and then at a specific moment, it descends in several stages until it reaches an area similar to a parking lot in its area, called “Nightingale”, after which it extends an arm about three meters long to the asteroid Earth.
With the first contact with the asteroid land, the spacecraft pulls out a quantity of dust and gravel of the asteroid, then collects its arm again, and rises to the top, and this is indeed what happened a few days ago and the agency announced it in an official statement, and currently the team is working to ensure that this sample was stored safely In the vehicle body.
It is assumed that the “OSIERS” maneuver similar in early 2021, and after the collection this time the spacecraft will launch again to Earth, so that scientists will be able to obtain well-preserved samples from a place untouched by human hands for the past 4.5 billion years.
The asteroid “Bennu” 101955 Bennu was discovered about two decades ago, and it was classified as one of the asteroids that take an orbit close to the Earth, which prompted many researchers to study it, and it turned out later that it is one of the oldest objects in the solar system, and therefore obtaining samples from it will be an opportunity Good to get to know its history.
This is not the first time that vehicles have been sent to take samples from asteroids, for example the Japanese mission Hayabusa2 was launched to the asteroid “Ryugu” in 2014. Like Benno, Ryugu also takes an orbit close to Earth, where it is at a distance. About 150 million kilometers at its nearest point.
In 2018, the spacecraft has already reached its target, and within a year it has collected samples and is expected to reach Earth in December 2020.
This type of exploration mission aims to deepen scientists’ understanding of the distant history of our solar system, which could help understand the emergence of life on planet Earth.
Source : Australian Press + websites