On September 24, 2023, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft successfully delivered asteroid samples back to Earth. On its way to land at the Department of Defense’s Utah Test and Training Range, the spacecraft released the sample return capsule into the atmosphere. NASA workers collected the samples after the spacecraft successfully landed using parachutes.
For the first time, NASA has returned samples from an asteroid back to the planet. The OSIRIS-REx mission collected samples from the Bennu asteroid which is present near Earth. According to scientists, it is one of the most essential objects in our solar system.
The scientists will study these samples so that they can learn more about how our solar system will form and evolve along with the potential for life beyond Earth.
Check out these details related to ORISIS-REx
Asteroid Sample Return
Atlas V 501
September 8, 2016
Date of Arrival at Bennu
August 3, 2018
Date of Sample Collection
October 20, 2020
Date of Departure from Bennu
May 10, 2021
Date of Earth Return
September 24, 2023
6.2 m with solar panels deployed
2.4 m x 2.4 m
TAGSAM Head Width
Dry Mass (unfueled)
Wet Mass (fueled)
2 solar panels generating between 1226 and 3000 watts
TAGSAM, SRC and 5 science instruments allow the spacecraft to gather data, collect samples and return back to Earth.
OCAMS (OSIRIS-REx Camera Suite)OVIRS (OSIRIS-REx Visible and InfraRed Spectrometer)OTES (OSIRIS-REx Thermal Emission Spectrometer)REXIS (OSIRIS-REx X-ray Imaging Spectrometer)OLA (OSIRIS-REx Laser Altimeter)
What is OSIRIS-REx Mission?
The OSIRIS-REx (Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer) mission is a NASA asteroid study and sample-return mission. It visited and collected samples from 101955 Bennu, a carbonaceous near-Earth asteroid. This spacecraft launched on September 8, 2016, and arrived at Bennu in December 2018.
In October 2020, OSIRIS-REx collected a sample of the surface material of Bennu by using a Touch-And-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism (TAGSAM) arm. This arm extended to the asteroid’s surface.
Then it fired a nitrogen gas blast which kicked up the dust and rocks. The catcher head collected the sample which is present on the arm and stowed in the spacecraft’s sample return capsule.
OSIRIS-REx departed Bennu and began its journey back to earth in May 2021. The spacecraft arrived on September 24, 2023. It released the sample return capsule into the atmosphere which landed safely under parachutes in the Utah desert. NASA Team recovered all the samples.
This mission is a major milestone in space exploration. It is also evidence of the innovation and commitment of NASA and its collaborators. The samples will give scientists a lot of information about our solar system. Let’s wait for them to discover something new about Earth’s position in the solar system, till then stay connected with oreonow.