OSIRIS-REx starts trip back to Earth after collecting asteroid samples: NASA

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx starts trip back to Earth. NASA had sent the spacecraft to an asteroid named Bennu in 2018. The asteroid is in the distance of 200 million miles (320 million km) from Earth. NASA’s same spacecraft is attempting to complete a mission to visit Bennu. Bennu is a skyscraper-sized asteroid. The mission included surveying the surface of the asteroid, collecting samples, and delivering them back to Earth.

Scientists believe that the spacecraft has collected samples from the asteroid. They say the spacecraft has also begun its two-year journey back to Earth on Monday.

When the space vehicle pushed away from the asteroid, NASA staff celebrated at the OSIRIS-REx control room in Colorado. The asteroid has acorn-shaped body formed in the early days of our solar system.

Scientists claim that the spacecraft found traces of hydrogen and oxygen molecules embedded in the asteroid’s rocky surface.
The molecules are thought to be part of the recipe for water and thus the potential for life. –

According to NASA, it will take 2 years for the spacecraft to reach back to Earth. The spacecraft will then eject a capsule containing the asteroid samples, which will land in a remote area of Utah.

Further NASA says that the samples will be distributed to different research laboratories all over the world. However, 75% of the samples will be preserved at the Johnson Space Center in Houston for future generations to study with technologies not yet created.

The roughly $800 million OSIRIS-REx spacecraft, which was built by Lockheed Martin, was launched in 2016. Japan is the only other country to have accomplished such a feat.

Scientists say that the asteroids are among the leftover debris from the solar system’s formation some 4.5 billion years ago. They hope sample from such ancient asteroids could provide clues to the origins of life on Earth.

  • May 13, 2021
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Universe & Existence