Last week, the OSIRIS-REx capsule landed on Earth carrying debris from the asteroid Bennu. Has the capsule been opened yet? what is the situation?
After landing last week, the capsule was transferred to a clean room, where the collected materials will be removed from the capsule during the coming period. NASA hopes this will prevent possible contamination with terrestrial materials. In this clean room, scientists make small parts and they are sent to more than 35 institutes for further research.
Slower than expected
NASA is now announcing the initial selection process for the material Returns are slower than expected. But that’s positive! This is because a lot of material was collected by the capsule. Some of this lies outside the protected storage space of the TAGSAM robot arm.
This didn’t come as a surprise. After the material on Bennu was collected, the locking mechanism was activated to protect the material, but at that time there was still asteroid debris outside the protected storage area. “There is a lot of material outside the TAGSAM repository that is interesting to investigate,” said NASA researcher Christopher Snead. The first sample of material outside the TAGSAM storage area is currently being examined by researchers.
Once all materials are collected outside the storage area, the lid can be opened and remaining materials removed. This is what will happen in the coming weeks NASA writes.
On the way to Apophis
OSIRIS-REx collected asteroid debris on Bennu’s surface three years ago. At the time, the asteroid was 200 million miles (320 million kilometers) from Earth. This was the first time that NASA had taken such samples on an asteroid. The spacecraft delivered the capsule last week, but it did not land on Earth itself. OSIRIS-REx is on its way to a new destination: the asteroid Apophis. The journey to Apophis is still long; The probe will not reach the asteroid until 2029. OSIRIS-REx has also been given a new name – OSIRIS-APEX – where APEX stands for Apophis Explorer.
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