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NASA is preparing to transport an amazing asteroid

NASA is preparing to transport an amazing asteroid

Perhaps one of NASA’s most important missions: On September 24, 2023, the Osiris-Rex space probe will pass by Earth and release a sealed sample of the asteroid Bennu, which will provide scientists with valuable insights into when the Sun and the planets existed. It was formed about 4.5 billion years ago.

Asteroid relocation is followed by a successful test throw

the NASA’s Osiris-Rex mission The first US asteroid is about to be transported to Earth after a successful test landing in the western desert of Utah.

“We are now just weeks away from preserving part of our solar system’s history on Earth, and this successful drop test ensures we are ready,” said Nicola Fox, deputy administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

During a test run, a helicopter dropped a replica of the sample capsule aboard the Osiris-Rex spacecraft on its way back to Earth from 7,000 feet above the Utah desert. (Photo: NASA // Keegan Barber)

“Pure material from asteroid Bennu will help shed light on how our solar system formed 4.5 billion years ago, and perhaps even how life began on Earth.”

Osiris Rex’s journey began 7 years ago

On September 8, 2016, the Osiris-Rex space probe began its mission. A year later, the spacecraft began exploring its target, Bennu, an asteroid with a diameter of 494 metres, considered the second most dangerous asteroid in the solar system.

The sample was finally taken from the asteroid on October 20, 2020. The space probe returned to Earth the following March. She is now expected to arrive there at the end of September, filled with anticipation.

Upon arrival, the spacecraft will release a sample capsule containing rocks and dust from the asteroid, which will then land in the Utah desert. A NASA-led team is in the final stages of preparation there, ready to deliver samples of material collected in space for nearly three years.

When is the capsule expected to arrive?

Under ideal conditions, the Osiris-Rex sample capsule would separate from the main probe, enter Earth’s atmosphere, and after about 13 minutes, make a soft landing using a parachute.

The capsule carries an estimated 8.8 ounces of rocky material from the surface of asteroid Bennu. Researchers will study the sample in the coming years to learn more about the composition of our planet and our solar system.

The capsule will enter the Earth’s atmosphere at 4:42 pm our time, traveling at a speed of about 44,500 kilometers per hour. Live coverage of the capsule landing will begin at 4 p.m. on NASA’s YouTube channel, the NASA app, and the agency’s website.

“We are now in the final leg of this seven-year journey, and it feels like the final miles of a marathon, where proud joy coexists with a resolute focus on successfully completing the race,” said Rich Burns, Osiris Project Manager. Rex at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

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