NASA mission collected at the least 70 grams of fabric from asteroid Bennu

NASA lately introduced its first pattern again from an asteroid, with the OSIRIS-REx mission dropping off a pattern from asteroid Bennu within the Utah desert. The objective of the mission was to gather at the least 60 grams of fabric, and NASA has now revealed {that a} whole of 70.3 grams has been faraway from the sampler to this point.

The researchers didn’t know beforehand how a lot materials they’d collected, as they hadn’t been in a position to carry out the required maneuvers with the spacecraft to make a mass estimate whereas the pattern was in transit. That they had chosen to not carry out the acceleration maneuvers that might allow them to measure the mass on account of a difficulty that occurred throughout pattern assortment, when a rock had wedged open the door of the pattern canister and allowed among the pattern to flee. To stop any extra pattern loss, the canister was shortly stowed contained in the spacecraft.

Two NASA personnel carry a container holding the sample gathered from the Bennu asteroid.
NASA personnel carry a container holding the pattern gathered from the Bennu asteroid. NASA

So although preliminary estimates of how a lot materials was within the pattern have been as much as a whole lot of grams, there was important uncertainty in these estimates. However even the present quantity of fabric collected is lots for researchers to work with. For instance, Japan’s Hayabusa 2 asteroid pattern return mission was in a position to accumulate round 5 grams, which researchers have been busily engaged on since 2020.

Scientists have already carry out a fast first look evaluation of fabric that was on the surface of the OSIRIS-REx canister, and one in all these researchers, Pierre Haenecour, informed Digital Developments that his group may work for years on even a tiny particle. The bounty of pattern materials might be shared out between totally different labs within the U.S. and overseas, with among the pattern going to Japanese area company JAXA, for instance, in return for among the Hayabusa 2 pattern that was shared with NASA.

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Getting the pattern out of the canister has confirmed extra advanced than initially anticipated, nevertheless. The curation group had points with eradicating two of the 25 fasteners that maintain the pattern throughout the assortment mechanism, as they’re solely in a position to make use of explicit instruments inside a sealed glovebox that holds the mechanism. They have been in a position to accumulate the 70 grams by holding down a flap and painstakingly eradicating items of the pattern with tweezers.

NASA has shared that the group is now engaged on a brand new process to open up the mechanism, which ought to hopefully end in them having the ability to accumulate much more of the pattern.