Home / Science / NASA prepares to collect asteroid samples next week in deep space on the OSIRIS-REx mission

NASA prepares to collect asteroid samples next week in deep space on the OSIRIS-REx mission

NASA currently has an orbiter surrounding the asteroid Bennu about 200 million miles from Earth, and a live streaming attempt will be made next week to collect a sample from its surface.

The mission, OSIRIS-REx (Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer), was developed to help improve our understanding of asteroid impact risks and study how planets and life in the universe began. . After a two-year journey into deep space, Bennu’s surface has been extensively studied by the orbiter since its arrival in 2018 in preparation for its historic mission. If successful, the aircraft will land on the asteroid and collect a 2.1-ounce sample that will be returned to our planet in 2023.

“Bennu contains material from the early solar system and may contain molecular precursors to Earth̵

7;s life and oceans,” NASA’s announcement of the detailed live stream. “The asteroid is about as tall as the Empire State Building and could potentially threaten Earth towards the end of the next century, with a one in 2,700 chance of impacting our planet during one of its close approaches.”

NASA’s live webcast of the event will begin at 6:12 PM EDT on Tuesday, October 20. Press briefings and other social media activities will take place on October 19th starting at 1pm EDT.

OSIRIS-REx, which is about 20 feet long and 10 feet tall with its extended solar panels, has a two-part system for collecting its asteroid sample. The first, a Touch-and-Go (TAGSAM) sample acquisition mechanism, is an articulated robotic arm with a sampler head that extends to the surface to collect regolith. Second, a sample return capsule (SRC) acts as a container with a heat shield and parachute that will protect the asteroid regolith and allow reentry into the Earth’s atmosphere. The mission is the first of its kind for NASA. Its predecessor is the Japanese Hayabusa mission which returned with its asteroid sample in 2010.

NASA has been working hard for the past decade with its deep space missions. More recently, the agency’s Insight lander has made progress in studying “Marsquakes” after arriving on Mars in 2018. The new Mars rover, Perseverance, is on its way to the red planet where it will collect a sample of it from the surface to return. on Earth on a future mission. That mission also includes the first rotating aircraft experiment that will attempt flight to another planet.

Another OSIRIS-REx-like mission is NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft, scheduled to launch aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in July 2021. DART will crash into asteroid Didymos in 2022, and a European Space Agency orbiter will head to the asteroid in 2023 to study the effects of the event on the space object. The collected data will help formulate planetary defense plans by providing detailed analysis from DART’s real-time asteroid deflection experiment.

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