Space capsule carrying sample of Bennu asteroid lands in US’s Utah

Washington, (UNI) The OSIRIS-REx space capsule, carrying a sample of the Bennu asteroid, landed in the US state of Utah on Sunday, NASA said.

Asteroid Bennu, previously known as 1999 RQ36, was discovered in 1999. Bennu is considered a near-Earth asteroid. It comes close to our planet every six years. NASA said that Bennu was included in the Guinness World Records book as the smallest space body orbited by a man-made spacecraft. Scientists assume that Bennu could have broken away from a larger carbon-rich asteroid about 2 billion years ago.

“NASA’s OSIRIS-REx sample capsule, carrying a sample of asteroid Bennu, touched down on the Department of Defense’s Utah Test and Training Range at 10:52 a.m. EDT [14:52 GMT],” the US space agency said.

It added that this was the first time a US spacecraft delivered rocks and dust from an asteroid to Earth. The capsule is expected to contain from 60 to 2,000 grams (2.1-70.5 oz) of sample material gathered from the asteroid’s surface back in 2020.

Now the capsule has to be located and transferred to experts, who will study the samples. On Monday, it will be delivered to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, where its demonstration is expected to take place on October 11.

The OSIRIS-REx mission was launched in September 2016 to reach Bennu and collect samples of rocks and dust from its surface. The spacecraft itself will continue its journey through space to reach Apophis, an asteroid roughly 1,200 feet in diameter that will come within 20,000 miles of Earth in 2029. To reflect the extended mission’s new goals, NASA has changed the name of the mission to OSIRIS-APEX. The mission will “study changes in the asteroid caused by its close flyby of Earth using the spacecraft’s gas thrusters to attempt to dislodge and study the dust and small rocks on and below Apophis’ surface.”

Leave a Reply