First sample of the asteroid Bennu arrived on Earth yesterday

Isbel Lázaro.

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Inspenet, September 25, 2023.

The OSIRIS-REx mission, which was launched in 2016, has successfully brought back to Earth the first large-volume sample from an asteroid, consisting of 250 grams of dust and rocks from the Bennu space object, as planned.

Yesterday, the OSIRIS-REx capsule containing the aforementioned amount of material from Bennu landed at the Utah Test and Training Range, a military installation designated by NASA as a landing zone for this compartment, which has already It had been used in similar operations previously.

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asteroide 2
NASA’s OSIRIS-REx capsule landed successfully yesterday

More details about the asteroid Bennu

The sample, composed of rock and dust , will be transported to a special structure at the base before being sent tomorrow to the Johnson Space Center in Houston, where it will undergo extensive study over the next two years.

This landing marks the end of the OSIRIS-REx mission that NASA launched on September 8, 2016, bound for Bennu, an object that is millions of kilometers away from Earth and has a diameter of 500 meters.

It should be noted that the probe sent reached Bennu in December 2018 and spent the next two years examining it carefully, evaluating aspects such as the best place to carry out sample collection. Finally, in October 2020, he carried out this procedure and upon coming into contact with the asteroid, he discovered that its mass was made up of particles that were held together due to the force of gravity, which gave it a surface similar to that of a swimming pool. of balls.

After completing this operation, the probe began its return to Earth in May 2021, finally arriving this Sunday. As it approached the Earth’s atmosphere, it separated the space capsule that housed the samples. It entered at a speed of over 44,000 km/h and then gradually reduced its speed by opening its parachutes, landing softly in the Utah desert at a speed of only 15 km/h.

By analyzing the collected particles, researchers hope to advance our understanding of the origins of life on Earth and the process of formation of the solar system.

Although this is not the first asteroid sample obtained, what makes this occasion stand out is the unprecedented amount of material collected. In 2020, the Japanese Space Agency achieved a similar achievement, although the amount obtained was minimal, equivalent to no more than a small teaspoon.


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