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NASA spacecraft OSIRIS-REx touches the asteroid Bennu in historic attempt to return samples


A rendering of the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft.

NASA

A NASA spacecraft on Tuesday touched the floor of the asteroid Bennu, in a mission that goals to return rocky items for examination on Earth in 2023.

“Touchdown declared,” NASA stated on a webcast from the mission’s management middle. “Sampling is in progress.”

The mission marks the first time NASA has tried to return supplies from an asteroid, a feat that solely Japan has pulled off earlier than however in smaller portions. While NASA confirmed that the spacecraft touched the asteroid, the area company is not going to know for a number of extra hours if it collected supplies efficiently.

Called OSIRIS-REx – an acronym that stands for Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer – the NASA spacecraft represents the end result of years of labor. The mission launched in Sept. 2016, with a complete price of about $1 billion.

“Everything I’ve worked on has been focused on this day, getting the spacecraft down to contact the asteroid and collect the sample,” Dr. Dante Lauretta, a professor of Planetary Science and Cosmochemistry at the University of Arizona and the chief of the mission, instructed CNBC.

The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft itself is about the dimension of a giant van: 20 ft lengthy, 9 ft huge, 10 ft tall, with an 11 foot arm that may attain down to seize materials in a maneuver NASA calls “tagging” the asteroid. The spacecraft was constructed by Lockheed Martin’s area division.

“What deep space missions are able to discover is directly applicable to [NASA’s other efforts, such as] lunar exploration,” Lockheed Martin director of deep area exploration Ari Vogel instructed CNBC.

Tagging the asteroid



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