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NASA’s Osiris-Rex probe leaves asteroid Bennu and begins two-year journey to Earth

The US area probe Osiris-Rex left the orbit of the asteroid Bennu, from which it collected mud samples final yr, on Monday to start its lengthy journey again to Earth. The probe nonetheless has a protracted technique to go earlier than it lands within the Utah desert on September 24, 2023. Osiris-Rex “is now transferring greater than 600 miles an hour away from Bennu on its approach house. Dante Lauretta, accountable for the mission, mentioned in the course of the video broadcast of the occasion by NASA.

The spacecraft’s thrusters have been engaged with out incident for seven minutes to return the probe to the right unique path, a path of two.3 billion kilometers.

Image Credit: NASA

Osiris-Rex carries over 60 grams of mud and fragments from the asteroid Bennu. Picture Credit score: NASA

It carries greater than 60 grams of mud and fragments of the asteroid, the most important pattern collected by NASA from rocks on the Moon reported by the Apollo missions.

To attain this purpose, the US area company launched a high-risk operation in October 2020: the probe made contact with the asteroid for just a few seconds, and an explosion of compressed nitrogen was emitted to elevate the pattern. of mud which was then captured.

The shock for NASA was that the probe’s arm sank a number of inches into the asteroid’s floor, displaying scientists that “the surfaces of those rubble-pile asteroids are very weakly consolidated,” Lauretta mentioned.

The entire mission practically failed when NASA realized just a few days later that the valve within the assortment compartment was not closing, letting fragments escape into area.

However the valuable cargo was ultimately secured after being transferred to a capsule hooked up to the middle of the spacecraft.

In two and a half years, this capsule can be launched just a few hours earlier than it enters the Earth’s environment and can be slowed down by a parachute system for its touchdown.

The samples will then be transported to NASA’s Johnson Area Middle in Houston, however 75% can be saved intact for examine by future generations, who can have superior applied sciences which have but to be created, the company mentioned.

The evaluation is predicted to assist scientists higher perceive the formation of the photo voltaic system and the event of Earth as a liveable planet.

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