On Tuesday, October 20, 2020, NASA spacecraft OSIRIS-Rex touched the surface of Bennu which is currently determined to be more than 200 million miles (321 million kilometers) away from our planet earth. OSIRIS-REX stands for Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer.
The asteroid collected samples of the surface Bennu with the “Touch-And-Go” (TAG) action. The collected materials from Bennu would help the researchers to gather information about the formation of our solar system.
“Transcendental,” Dante Lauretta, said, “I mean, I can’t believe we actually pulled this off.”
The target of the surface material collection site for the OSIRIS-REx mission is known as “Nightingale.” OSIRIS-REx fired its thrusters at 1:50 p.m to push itself out of the orbit around bennu. The telemetry data of the spacecraft indicated that the action took place exactly as expected. It will take about 7 days for the OSIRIS-Rex group to determine the amount of material collected by the spacecraft.
Dr. Lauretta said, “It’s up to Bennu now to see how the event went.”
“The asteroids are like time capsules, floating in space, that can provide a fossil record of the birth of our solar system,” was added by Lori Glaze.
OSIRIS-Rex left Earth in September 2016 and reached bennu in December 2018. Since then, it is inspecting the asteroid and recording that it was ejecting particles into space.
Image showing asteroid Bennu ejecting particles from its surface on January 19, 2019. It is made by the combination of two images taken by OSIRIS-REx spacecraft.
In the middle of the upcoming year, 2021 OSIRIS-REX will be leaving Bennu on its way back to earth. It will drop a small capsule consisting of rock and dirt with a parachute landing in Utah on Sept. 24, 2023.