NASA Shares Footage Of Historic OSIRIS-REx Touchdown

NASA's OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft Successfully Boops Asteroid Bennu

The spacecraft then successfully fired its thrusters to back away from the asteroid surface, NASA said.

The cost of the mission is approximately US$800 million.

A spacecraft owned by the Japanese Space Agency, JAXA, collected a sample from the asteroid Ryugu in 2019 and is expecting to get the sample back to Earth in December.

Captured on October 20 during the OSIRIS-REx mission's Touch-And-Go (TAG) sample collection event, this series of 2 images shows the SamCam imager's field of view at the moment before and after the NASA spacecraft touched down on asteroid Bennu's surface. We got to share in the mission team's trepidation as the probe approached its target and their joy when the spacecraft reported its success.

OSIRIS-REx's cameras were not sitting idle, though.

Scientists are interested in analysing the composition of the asteroids in the solar system because they are made of the same materials that formed the planets.

Originally, scientists believed that Bennu was a smooth rock and that they'd have no problem collecting a sample.

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The mission team over the next week will use a camera on the spacecraft to take pictures of the collection head on the robotic arm to try and determine how much of a sample was collected.

The OSIRIS-REx mission's primary goal is to collect and return at least 60g of material from Bennu.

In total, the craft spent just 6 seconds touching the asteroid itself, but that was enough to collect samples of the asteroid's regolith for analysis on Earth. The sampling event brought the spacecraft all the way down to sample site Nightingale, and the team on Earth received confirmation of successful touchdown at 6:08 p.m. EDT. A nitrogen gas bottle fired on the surface appeared to stir up a substantial amount of material in a "rubble shower". "The spacecraft was traveling at 0.2 miles per hour (10 cm/sec) when it contacted sample site Nightingale and then backed away at 0.9 miles per hour (40 cm/sec)".

Thanks to the help of Canadian tech, a NASA spaceship took a shot at collecting some 4.5-billion-year-old space dust.

There's so much cool stuff going on in this incredibly remote part of space. You can see it happen. As a matter of fact, the experts were not very hopeful about this task. However, Dante Lauretta, the principal investigator of OSIRIS-REx at the University of Arizona, said at a press conference he thought the chances "have gone way up" that something was collected after analyzing the images. Even it becomes a limitation when your spacecraft is millions of kilometres away, though. Bennu is now more than 200 million miles from Earth.

Enos hopes for a "completely full capsule" that represents Bennu's carbon-rich compositon and hydrated minerals, both discovered based on observations and data sent back by OSIRIS-REx over the last two years.

The mission was programmed in advance and the spacecraft was instructed to operate autonomously during the unprecedented touch-and-go maneuver. Then, when the time came, all they could do is sit back and receive the updates from OSIRIS-REx as they came in. The low gravity of Bennu allowed the craft to tap the surface at a carefully chosen location known as Nightingale.

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