NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Mission: Successfully Delivers Asteroid Samples Back To Earth

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

ObjectiveAsteroid Sample Return
Launch VehicleAtlas V 501
Launch dateSeptember 8, 2016
Date of Arrival at BennuAugust 3, 2018
Date of Sample CollectionOctober 20, 2020
Date of Departure from BennuMay 10, 2021
Date of Earth ReturnSeptember 24, 2023
Length6.2 m with solar panels deployed
Width2.4 m x 2.4 m 
Height3.2 m
TAGSAM Length3.4 m
TAGSAM Head Width30.5 cm
Dry Mass (unfueled)880 kgs
Wet Mass (fueled)2110 kgs
Power2 solar panels generating between 1226 and 3000 watts
PayloadTAGSAM, SRC and 5 science instruments allow the spacecraft to gather data, collect samples and return back to Earth.
InstrumentsOCAMS (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.

Must Read: NASA’s Voyager 2’s Heartbeat Signal: A Sign of Life in Deep Space

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