NASA’S Spacecraft OSIRIS-REX touched the surface of asteroid Bennu on Oct 20, 2020, and collected samples of the surface of the asteroid which made it a successful mission for NASA.
It has been seen that the OSIRIS–REX spacecraft made a good collection of rock and dirt from Bennu and it has also been observed that it has collected so much rock and dirt that some of it is getting discharged into space. Officials from NASA said that without taking good care of its samples it can have a loss of the scientific payload.
Image Source – nasa
Few rocks got clogged in the robotic probe’s collecting process and it did not allow a flap to close fully. Scientists saw a chunk of asteroids coming out in the pictures taken by the spacecraft. Dr. Lauretta estimated “that each image showed about 5 to 10 grams — up to about a third of an ounce — of material floating around the collector.”
It is estimated to be a compelling loss as the aim of the mission was to bring a minimum of 60 grams of asteroid dirt and rocks.
Dr. Lauretta said, “You’ve got to remember the entire system is in microgravity.” He also added that “The particles move as if in a fluid, “and particles are kind of diffusing out.”
Even after all the problems, the spacecraft accumulated more than 60 grams of sample collected which is abundant to mission requirements. The most important part of this mission was to collect the sample from the asteroid. Asteroids are rocky airless fragments left from the beginning of our solar system nearly 4.6 billion years ago. Researchers on earth could do a more detailed study on Bennu’s surface material as there is the availability of various refined instruments on earth than that on the spacecraft.
Image Source – nasa
Dr. Lauretta said, “The sampling mechanism, which resembles an automobile air filter, had been designed to work on a wide variety of surfaces ranging from completely rigid — Like running into a slab of concrete, to something much more porous.”
He also added, “We could not have performed a better collection experiment.”
The process to put away the collected materials safely in the spacecraft until it is needed is estimated to start on Tuesday 27th October 2020. Various engineers are working on the modification of the process to decrease the number of collected materials that would get discharged into space during the process. It would take many days before the sample materials are stored in a comeback capsule.
We hope it becomes successful in the path of returning to the earth and helps us to explore various hidden facts of our solar system and the universe.