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NASA was able to open the Osiris-REX mission probe that traveled to the asteroid Bennu and what they found baffled them

NASA was able to open the Osiris-REX mission probe that traveled to the asteroid Bennu and what they found baffled them

Osiris-REX Mission Probe – Credits: @Keegan Barber

NASA was able to open the pressurized cabin of the Osiris-Rex mission probe on Tuesday Who collected the fragments of a distant asteroid and announced that they had found something inside it that puzzled them. The space agency stressed that it must carefully examine the valuable sample due to the difficulty and accuracy required to obtain it.

The mission landed last Sunday in the American desert UtahAfter a very dangerous maneuver and seven years in space. The capsule brought back a sample taken in 2020 from the asteroid BennuWhich, according to preliminary estimates, contained about 250 grams of the aforementioned asteroid material.

The mission was not without problems because during that process, NASA realized that the lid of the collection container could not be closed. But the sample was finally secured and transported to the probe as planned.

Size of asteroid Bennu

Size of asteroid Bennu

However, because of this failure, scientists expected to find the remains of the sample outside the collection chamber, in the box it had been placed in, as it was not believed that all of the material had been stored.

So on Tuesday afternoon, scientists in Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, who opened the first lid in one of the closed rooms in the laboratory. The first thing NASA teams found was “black dust and debris,” the space agency announced, without specifying whether they were asteroid fragments or other sediments.

This material will be analyzed andMeticulous disassembly process“From the collection chamber,” the space agency wrote, “in order to access the key sample inside.”

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The probe landed on Bennu for a few seconds and released a jet of nitrogen to collect the sample

The probe landed on Bennu for a few seconds and released a jet of nitrogen to collect the sample

A press conference is scheduled to be held on October 11 to “promote the exhibition.” Analyzing the composition of asteroid Bennu will allow scientists to better understand how the solar system formed and how Earth became habitable.

Scientists believe that this space body (500 meters in diameter) is rich in carbon and contains water molecules coated with minerals. There is a small risk (1 in 2700 chance) From Bennu colliding with Earth in 2182, which would be catastrophic. In 2022, NASA was able to divert an asteroid by colliding with it.

The American space probe Osiris Rex, launched in 2016, collected a sample of… Pino Nearly three years ago. It was scheduled to return to Earth on Sunday around 9 a.m. (local time, 12 noon Argentina time), in Military testing site In western Utah.

About four hours ago, about 108,000 kilometers from Earth, the Osiris-Rex probe released the capsule containing the sample. The final descent took 13 minutes. The capsule entered the atmosphere at a speed of 43,000 kilometers per hour, and its maximum temperature reached about 43,000 kilometers per hour. 2800°CThe space agency indicated.

Thus, two successive parachutes brought the capsule down smoothly into the desert, where it was recovered by individuals in the area. Reaching the target area of ​​650 square kilometers was a “Throw an arrow on the basketball court and hit the target.”Rich Burns, Osiris-REx project manager at NASA, explained.

With information from Agence France-Presse

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