NASA is ready to present the first findings of the OSIRIS-REx mission on October 11. These findings will include information about the rock and dust brought from the asteroid Bennu, as well as the first images of the sample.
The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft delivered a precious cargo of 250 grams to Earth on September 24 and is now at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. There, it will be carefully stored and distributed to scientists around the world.
A specialized team will work in a cleanroom at Johnson, specifically built to handle Bennu samples. This room includes customized glove boxes designed to fit the sample container containing the Touch-and-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism (TAGSAM).
The robotic arm with the TAGSAM head collected rocks and dust from the surface of the asteroid Bennu on October 20, 2020. Now, scientists and technicians will follow rigorous steps to extract the sample from TAGSAM. This will involve disassembling the canister in the glove box and removing the TAGSAM head, where the majority of the samples are expected to be found.
Once the initial disassembly is complete, researchers plan to analyze the asteroid dust to gather information about its chemical, mineralogical, and physical characteristics, as well as the types of rocks present in the bulk sample.
The initial findings of this mission will provide valuable information about the composition and history of the asteroid Bennu, and will help scientists better understand the formation and evolution of our solar system.
– NASA: National Aeronautics and Space Administration