NASA delivered 70 grams of material from the asteroid Bennu in the OSIRIS-REx mission

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NASA lucked a sample from the Bennu satellite, collecting 70.3 grams of material. This exceeds their expectations despite problems during collection. Scientists will be able to conduct multi-year studies and share samples with other agencies

NASA recently successfully returned the first sample from the asteroid Bennu as part of the OSIRIS-REx mission. On September 24, the capsule successfully landed on Earth after a seven-year journey. The mission’s original goal was to collect at least 60 grams of material, but the agency has now announced that they have managed to collect 70.3 grams.

NASA
NASA

Scientists did not know in advance the exact amount of material collected, since they could not perform the necessary maneuvers with the spacecraft to estimate the mass while transporting the sample to Earth. They were unable to perform acceleration maneuvers that would have allowed them to measure the mass due to a problem that occurred during collection when a rock blocked the door of the container containing the collected material. To prevent the loss of the sample, the container was quickly removed from the spacecraft.

NASA delivered 70 grams of material from the asteroid Bennu in the OSIRIS-REx mission

Initial estimates of quantities were in the hundreds of grams, but significant uncertainties arose in these estimates. Despite this, the collected material is sufficient for further research.

There were also some unexpected complications when opening the container. Engineers had trouble removing 2 of the 25 fasteners that hold the sample inside the collection mechanism since only certain tools can be used inside the sealed box. The team was able to collect 70 grams by holding the lid and carefully picking up all the grains of sand using tweezers.

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Engineers are now working on a new procedure for opening the container, which they hope will allow even more material to be collected.

The Hayabusa 2 asteroid sample return mission only collected about 5 grams from the Ryugu asteroid, something scientists have been actively working on since 2020.

Scientists have already conducted a brief analysis of the material located outside the OSIRIS-REx container. According to one of the researchers, Pierre Harcourt, his group can work on even a small particle for years. The sample will be divided among various laboratories in the US and abroad, returning part of the sample to the Japanese space agency JAXA in return.