The US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) reported that the automatic station OSIRIS-REx successfully coped with its main task – it collected rock samples from the surface of the asteroid Bennu. This operation will become one of the most important events in the history of space exploration.
Recall that the OSIRIS-REx (Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer) spacecraft was launched to the asteroid Bennu in 2016. The goal of the project is to deliver rock samples of this body to Earth for a comprehensive study in laboratory conditions. The analysis of matter is expected to help shed light on the evolution of the solar system.
Last Tuesday, October 20, the OSIRIS-REx station made a series of maneuvers, which allowed it to approach the asteroid and synchronize its rotation speed. After that, the TAGSAM (Touch-And-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism) system, a 3.35 meter robotic arm for collecting samples, came into play.
After contact with Bennu, a jet of nitrogen was released, blowing out rock particles and dust from the surface of the asteroid: these samples were collected by the TAGSAM system.
Now NASA experts will estimate how many samples the station managed to get. If the resulting volume is sufficient, the device will go to Earth on arrival in September 2023. Otherwise, a second sample collection attempt will be made on January 12.
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