This Sunday, the landing of a capsule containing a quarter kilogram of material from the asteroid Bennu is expected to take place on Earth, which will allow for a detailed analysis of its composition and study of the origin of the solar system. This will be the first time that the United States has brought back samples of an asteroid to our planet. Until now, only Japan had achieved this feat with the Hayabusa 2 mission in 2020.
After a seven-year adventure, the OSIRIS-Rex robotic spacecraft is culminating its mission today with an exciting and complex landing. The capsule will enter Earth’s atmosphere at over 40,000 kilometers per hour and will take about 13 to 15 minutes to land. The landing site is located in the Utah desert, United States.
NASA planetary scientist Lucas Paganini explains that the capsule will descend ballistically and, through a parachute system, will gradually reduce its speed to avoid a too forceful landing that could damage it. The capsule contains pristine material that will be kept at a stable temperature thanks to its special thermal shield.
A hundred people and two helicopters are part of the deployment to recover the capsule and ensure its preservation. It is expected that 25% of the material will be distributed among 200 scientists, while the remaining 75% will be preserved for future studies with better instruments. The objective of studying asteroids is to understand the formation of planets and moons, as they act as fossils or time capsules.
– Lucas Paganini, NASA planetary scientist.
– NASA’s OSIRIS-Rex mission.