Inspenet, September 28, 2023.
NASA announced Tuesday that the Osiris-Rex mission probe, which collected fragments of the asteroid Bennu, has revealed the presence of “black dust and debris” inside, although the sample has not yet been fully examined.
After seven years since its launch, the probe made a successful landing on Sunday in the Utah desert, United States, in a high-risk maneuver.
The asteroid sample
The sample, collected in 2020 from the asteroid Bennu, is estimated to contain around 250 grams of material, according to the US space agency.
During that operation, the Agency faced an issue with the collection container lid initially failing to close, but the sample was eventually secured and transferred to the probe as planned.
However, due to this inconvenience, scientists anticipated finding traces outside the collection container, inside the box where it was originally housed.
On Tuesday, a first hatch was opened in a sealed chamber at the Johnson Space Center, located in Houston, Texas.
Immediately, NASA teams detected “black dust and debris,” as reported by the space agency, although it was not specified whether they were fragments of the asteroid .
This material will be analyzed and a “meticulous disassembly process” of the collection compartment will be carried out in order to access the main sample found inside, according to the space agency.
A press conference is scheduled for October 11 to “present the findings of the collection.”
Importantly, studying the composition of the asteroid Bennu will give scientists a deeper understanding of the formation of the Solar System and how Earth became a habitable place.
For their part, experts maintain that this celestial body, with a diameter of 500 meters, contains an abundance of carbon and houses water molecules trapped in minerals.
There is a low probability that Bennu will collide with Earth in 2182, since in 2022, NASA managed to modify the trajectory of an asteroid through a controlled collision.