#astronomy OSIRIS-REx captures treasure trove of samples from asteroid Bennu – Astronomy Now
After OSIRIS-REx’s TAGSAM pattern collector ran into the soil of the asteroid Bennu, flight controllers repositioned the gadget to get a glimpse inside. They discovered it jam full of small rocks and soil far in extra of the 60 grams required for mission success. Picture: NASA/Goddard/College of Arizona Scientists and engineers knew instantly that the
After OSIRIS-REx’s TAGSAM pattern collector ran into the soil of the asteroid Bennu, flight controllers repositioned the gadget to get a glimpse inside. They discovered it jam full of small rocks and soil far in extra of the 60 grams required for mission success. Picture: NASA/Goddard/College of Arizona
Scientists and engineers knew instantly that the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft’s “TAGSAM” collector profitable contacted the floor of asteroid Bennu on 20 October. However they didn’t know for positive what, if something, had been captured till they received an opportunity to intention a digicam into the mechanism’s inside two days later.
They usually have been thrilled by what they noticed.
Whereas 60 grams (2.12 ounces) was the minimal requirement for mission success, the photographs revealed a whole lot of grams of fabric within the 20 p.c of the TAGSAM collector seen to the digicam.
“Fairly actually, we couldn’t have carried out a greater assortment experiment,” stated Dante Lauretta, the OSIRIS-REx principal investigator. “So with all of that beneath our belt at this level, I’m extremely assured that TAGSAM was profitable, that had collected considerable mass, positively proof of a whole lot of grams of fabric, and probably extra.”
A lot, in actual fact, that at the least one rock fragment may very well be seen lodged in a flap supposed to entice collected particles inside an inside chamber. As a substitute, the digicam views confirmed small rocks and particles working their method out of the collector and into open area.
OSIRIS-REx backs away from Bennu amid a blizzard of soil and small rocks after a blast of pressurized nitrogen gasoline stirred up materials throughout a six-second touch-and-go pattern assortment maneuver. Picture: NASA/Goddard/College of Arizona
In consequence, plans to “weigh” the samples, a process requiring OSIRIS-REx to slowly spin about its axis, have been referred to as off and engineers moved up plans to stow TAGSAM and its robotic arm to stop the lack of further materials.
“Now we have considerable proof of a profitable assortment occasion,” Lauretta advised reporters throughout a 23 October teleconference. “We’re involved that the pattern mass measurement that was deliberate would import impart further forces and really trigger us to lose mass.
“We’re in settlement that now we have sufficient proof of profitable pattern assortment, that we don’t want the pattern mass measurement. … That’s not a prudent path to go down.”
The group additionally referred to as off a deliberate thruster firing to halt OSIRIS-REx’s departure from Bennu in case an extra pattern assortment try was wanted.
“I mainly directed the group to place as minimal exercise on the spacecraft as mandatory, and begin specializing in the early stow of pattern to protect and stop any future mass loss,” Lauretta stated.
Summing up, he stated the sampling success was “very thrilling, very shocking, however total good news. We had a profitable pattern assortment try, virtually too profitable. Materials is escaping, and we’re expediting stow because of that.”
If all goes properly, OSIRIS-REx will hearth its foremost thruster and go away Bennu’s neighborhood in March to start a two-year voyage again to Earth. The samples, stowed in a re-entry capsule, are anticipated to land in Utah in September 2023.