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NASA’s Osiris-Rex probe leaves asteroid Bennu, begins two-year journey back to Earth- Technology News, Happy Easterday

NASA’s Osiris-Rex probe leaves asteroid Bennu, begins two-year journey again to Earth- Know-how Information, Blissful Easterday

The US area probe Osiris-Rex on Monday left the orbit of the asteroid Bennu, from which it collected mud samples final 12 months, to start its lengthy journey again to Earth. The probe nonetheless has an enormous distance to cowl earlier than it lands within the Utah desert on 24 September 24, 2023. Osiris-Rex is “now transferring away over 600 miles an hour from Bennu, on its approach dwelling,” Dante Lauretta, head of the mission, mentioned on NASA’s video broadcast of the occasion.

The spacecraft’s thrusters had been engaged with out incident for seven minutes to place the probe on the right trajectory dwelling, a journey of two.3 billion kilometres.

Osiris-Rex is carrying greater than 60 grams of mud and fragments from the asteroid Bennu. Picture credit score: NASA

It’s carrying greater than 60 grams of mud and fragments from the asteroid, the most important pattern collected by NASA for the reason that Moon rocks introduced again by the Apollo missions.

To realize this aim, the US area company launched a high-risk operation in October 2020: the probe got here into contact with the asteroid for just a few seconds, and a blast of compressed nitrogen was emitted to lift the mud pattern which was then captured.

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

The entire mission virtually got here to nought when NASA realized just a few days later that the valve of the gathering compartment was failing to shut, letting fragments escape into area.

However the treasured cargo was lastly secured after being transferred to a capsule mounted within the spacecraft’s centre.

In two and a half years, that capsule will probably be launched just a few hours earlier than entry into the Earth’s ambiance and will probably be slowed down by a parachute system for its touchdown.

The samples will then be transported to NASA’s Johnson Area Heart in Houston, however 75 p.c will probably be stored intact to be studied by future generations, who could have superior applied sciences that haven’t but been created, the company mentioned.

The evaluation ought 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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Updated: May 11, 2021 — 6:36 pm

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