NASA has released photos of the sealed package that returned to Earth last month carrying the largest sample ever recovered from the surface of an asteroid.
Material collected by the OSRIS-REx spacecraft three years ago from asteroid Bennu was unveiled at NASA’s Johnston Space Center in Houston, just over two weeks after it parachuted into the Utah desert.
Bennu contains some of the earliest elements to form in our solar system, and studying it is expected to shed new light on its origins. In addition, it is known to contain carbon elements and water-containing minerals. Together with them, scientists hope to understand the ingredients needed to form planets like ours and create suitable environments for growth.
Exciting space news! 👏
Preliminary studies of the asteroid Bennu sample collected by NASA #osirisrex Spacecraft show evidence of water and high carbon content, which together could point to the essential elements of life!
– NASA Marshall (@NASA_Marshall) October 11, 2023
Like other asteroids, Bennu is a remnant of the early solar system. Because its current chemistry and mineralogy are essentially unchanged since its formation about four and a half billion years ago, it holds clues about the origin and evolution of rocky planets like Earth.
Live broadcast: NASA reveals a sample of the asteroid Bennu https://t.co/1aLhy5LNKr
– Reuters (@Reuters) October 11, 2023
The successful return of the largest asteroid sample in human history marks the end of a seven-year mission, during which a robotic spacecraft the size of a small truck reached asteroid Bennu, “the most likely asteroid ever to hit Earth.”
After separating from the main vehicle last Sunday, the Osiris-REx capsule entered the Earth’s atmosphere at a speed of 44,500 km/h and developed an external temperature of 2,760 degrees Celsius. Celsius. An important part of the mission was to prevent the sample from being damaged or oxidized by Earth’s environment.
“Total alcohol fanatic. Coffee junkie. Amateur twitter evangelist. Wannabe zombie enthusiast.”