NASA works to avoid losing too much dust from Osiris-Rex asteroids


Osiris-Rex is expected to return home in September 2023 (File)

Washington, United States:

NASA said on Friday that its robotic Osiris-Rex spacecraft managed to collect a large sample of particles from the asteroid Bennu this week – but so much so that it was leaking.

The probe team is now working to quickly put away the remaining samples that would eventually be sent back to Earth to provide key scientific information.

“We see a substantial fraction of the mass collected required escape,” said head of mission Dante Lauretta during a phone call with journalists.

Osiris-Rex is expected to return home in September 2023, hopefully with the largest returned sample from space since the Apollo era, which will help unravel the origins of our solar system.

The probe is believed to have collected some 400 grams of fragments, far more than the minimum 60 grams required, Lauretta said.

But the manifold cover at the end of the probe’s arm where the fragments are stored was lightly pinched by larger rocks, creating a leak, scientists suspect.

Five to 10 grams have already been observed around the collecting arm in a cloud remaining more or less in the vicinity due to the microgravity environment which causes the fragments to behave like fluids.

“My big concern now is that the particles are escaping because we’ve almost fallen victim to our own success here,” Lauretta said.

As a result, a plan to take a mass measurement on Saturday was canceled because it would risk scattering other samples.

The task now is to reduce the activities of the spacecraft as much as possible and to prepare to put the material in a capsule on the probe as quickly as possible.

Osiris-Rex, launched more than four years ago, is he in danger of losing his treasure? The volume of the leak is not yet known with precision, but experts seemed relatively confident that would not be the case.

“Bennu continues to surprise us with great science and throwing a few curved balls as well,” Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA, said in a statement.

“And while we may need to act faster to put the sample away, that’s not a big deal to have. We are so excited to see what appears to be a plentiful sample that will inspire science for decades beyond this historic moment.

(This story was not edited by GalacticGaming staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)


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