NASA collects samples from the asteroids Bennu, but some of them escape into space


The historical sample collection from the nearby Earth asteroid Benn on Tuesday from NASA’s spacecraft OSIRIS-REx was almost too successful. According to Dante Lauretta, OSIRIS-REx’s chief investigator at the University of Arizona, some specimens are leaking into space. “At a NASA press conference in Tucson on Friday.” The big concern now is that the particles are leaking because we are almost victims of our own success, “he said. “Large particles left the flap open. Particles diffuse into space. They don’t move fast, but it’s still valuable scientific material. ” inside, is stuck. This allows particles to escape into space. The mission team is changing the course of events scheduled for the spacecraft this weekend and plans to save the sample as soon as possible so that little material is lost. The researchers estimated that they are constantly losing between 5 and 10 grams of material. This scaly material floats in a cloud of particles around the head. However, the team is not sure of the exact rate of loss because it is not stable. The mission was to collect at least 2 ounces or 60 grams of asteroid surface material. Based on the analyzed images, the scientists are convinced that the collection head at the end of the robotic arm of the spacecraft actually captured 400 grams of material. And that’s just what’s visible from the camera’s point of view. However, the particles escape through small gaps, where the Mylar flap or lid is kept open by stones at least an inch large. And the activities planned for this weekend could cause a greater loss of the sample due to movement. OSIRIS-Rex was expected to brake on Friday and sample weight on Saturday. Although this means that the team does not know the actual weight of the sample until it returns to Earth in 2023, the mission team believes it will have a sufficient sample. “We’re working to keep up with our own success here, and my job is to safely return as much of Benna as possible,” Lauretta said. “I’m worried about losing weight, so I strongly recommend the team to save this rare sample as soon as possible.” precious cargo safe to return to Earth. The sample head is so full because of the unexpected collection event on Tuesday. The collector’s head contacted Tuesday directly during the event – and then another. Within six seconds of the head touching, it sank 5 inches into the asteroid’s surface. When a nitrogen gas cylinder designed to lift material from the surface fired, the head dropped another 24 to 48 centimeters into the surface material. There’s no way to close the flap, Lauretta said. While the team is unsure of the strength of the rocks that keep it open, it must be strong and on the verge of what could pass into the collection head, he said. This is not something the team encountered in their pre-mission test campaign – which included large rocks and a sampling head buried in the asteroid’s surface material. However, the researchers did not test the sample head at the depth they believe it actually reached on the asteroid. “Bennu continues to surprise us with great science and also throws a few curves,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s science mission headquarters at the agency’s headquarters in Washington. “While we may have to move the sample faster, it’s not a bad problem. We’re so excited to see what appears to be an abundant sample that will inspire science for decades.” this historic moment. “Regardless of when the sample is stored within the next week, the spacecraft will not begin its journey back to Earth until March 2021, when an asteroid, which is currently 200 million miles from Earth, is more efficiently traveling home with our planet. . According to the team, the spacecraft “remains in good health” so that it can return to Earth.

The historic sample collection from the near-Earth asteroid Benn on Tuesday by NASA’s spacecraft OSIRIS-REx was almost too successful.

Some of the sample is leaking into space, said Dante Lauretta, chief researcher of OSIRIS-REx at the University of Arizona in Tucson, during a NASA press conference on Friday.

“The big concern now is that the particles are leaking because we are almost victims of our own success,” he said. “Large particles left the flap open. Particles diffuse into space. They don’t move fast, but it’s valuable scientific material. “

The mission team analyzed Thursday images taken by the spacecraft’s collector’s head, which showed that a substantial sample had been collected – but there is so much material in the head that the flap designed to hold the sample inside is jammed.

This allows particles to escape into space. The mission team is changing the course of events scheduled for the spacecraft this weekend and plans to save the sample as soon as possible so that little material is lost. The researchers estimated that they are constantly losing between 5 and 10 grams of material. This scaly material floats in a form resembling a cloud of particles around the head.

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But the team is not sure of the exact rate of losses because it is not stable.

The mission was to collect at least 2 ounces or 60 grams of asteroid surface material. Based on the analyzed images, the scientists are convinced that the collection head at the end of the robotic arm of the spacecraft actually captured 400 grams of material. And that’s just what’s visible from the camera’s point of view.

However, the particles escape through small gaps, where the Mylar flap is kept open by stones at least an inch large. And the activities planned for the spacecraft this weekend could cause a greater loss of the sample due to movement.

OSIRIS-Rex was previously expected to perform brake burns on Friday and sample weight measurements on Saturday. Although this means that the team does not know the actual weight of the sample until it returns to Earth in 2023, the mission team believes it will have a sufficient sample.

“We’re working to keep up with our own success here, and my job is to safely return as much of Benna as possible,” Lauretta said. “I’m worried about losing weight, so I strongly recommend the team to save this rare sample as soon as possible.”

The team will go through another evaluation process this weekend to ensure that the sample head can be stored in a returnable sample capsule until Tuesday to protect the bulk material and keep the rare cargo safe so that it can return to Earth.

The sample head is so full because of the unexpected collection event on Tuesday.

The collector’s head made direct contact during the event on Tuesday – and then something else. Within six seconds of the head touching, it sank 5 inches into the asteroid’s surface. When a nitrogen gas cylinder designed to lift material from the surface fired, the head dropped another 24 to 48 centimeters into the surface material.

There’s no way to close the flap, Lauretta said. While the team is unsure of the strength of the rocks that hold it, it must be strong and large enough for what could go into the collecting head, he said.

The team did not encounter this in its pre-mission test campaign – which included large stones and a sampling head that was buried with the asteroid’s surface material. However, the scientists did not test the head of the sample at the depth in which they suspect that it actually reached the asteroid.

“Bennu continues to surprise us with great science and also by throwing a few curves,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, a fellow administrator at NASA’s Science Missions Directorate in Washington.

“While we may have to move faster to save the sample, it’s not a bad problem. We are so excited to see what appears to be an abundant sample that will inspire science for decades after this historic moment. ”

Regardless of when the sample is stored within the next week, the spacecraft will not begin its journey back to Earth until March 2021, when the asteroid, which is currently 200 million miles from Earth, is in tune with our planet for a more efficient journey home. .

According to the team, the spacecraft “remains in good health” so that it can return to Earth.


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