NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is set to make headlines in the coming months, as it prepares to return to Earth with a valuable sample from the asteroid Bennu. The mission, which has captivated space enthusiasts around the world, will see the sample brought back in a capsule that resembles something straight out of a 60s sci-fi show.
The highly-anticipated event is scheduled to take place on September 24, when the capsule will make its dramatic descent into the Utah desert. This landing marks the culmination of years of meticulous planning and countless hours of practice. In fact, the collection process has been rehearsed multiple times, including a recent dress rehearsal at the Utah Test and Training Range.
The capsule, which will be dropped from the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft, is expected to land within an elliptical area measuring 58 by 14 kilometers. To ensure a seamless operation, the team has spent extensive time practicing various procedures, such as collecting soil samples, preparing the capsule for transportation, and even flying a helicopter to transport the valuable cargo.
Once the capsule safely reaches Earth, it will be transported to NASA’s Johnson Space Center for further analysis. The science canister inside the capsule will be handled with extreme caution, requiring it to be opened in a clean room and a glovebox. These precautions are necessary to maintain the integrity of the sample and avoid any contamination.
Scientists are eager to get their hands on the sample, as it has the potential to reveal valuable insights about our solar system’s history. Initial estimates suggest that the sample collected from Bennu could weigh anywhere between 400 to 1,000 grams, exceeding everyone’s expectations. This unexpected windfall will enable researchers to delve deeper into the asteroid’s composition and unravel its mysteries.
Bennu was specifically chosen for this mission due to its unique properties, which have been preserved for millions of years. By studying Bennu, scientists hope to gain a better understanding of the early solar system and its formation. It’s like examining a time capsule from the birth of the planets, providing a window into the past and shedding light on how our cosmic neighborhood came to be.
As the final preparations are underway, anticipation is building within the scientific community and among space enthusiasts. The return of OSIRIS-REx and its prized sample represents a remarkable achievement for NASA and a giant leap forward in our quest to uncover the secrets of the universe.
“Prone to fits of apathy. Devoted music geek. Troublemaker. Typical analyst. Alcohol practitioner. Food junkie. Passionate tv fan. Web expert.”