It has been seven years since the US space agency NASA’s Osiris-Rex spacecraft set off for the asteroid (101955) Bennu. A year later it reached the asteroid, which was about half a kilometer in diameter. The sample was taken on October 20, 2020 and the space probe has been on its return flight to Earth since March 10, 2021. She should her on September 24, 2023drop the sealed sample and fly to their next target.
The nose wants to collect the sample to learn more about the mysterious celestial bodies that fly through our solar system. Through asteroids, astronomical experts can learn more about the early formation of our solar system. Some of them probably brought water to the earth and we ultimately owe our lives to them.
Almost 1.3 million asteroids have been discovered in our solar system, and thousands of new objects appear every month. Experts assume there are several million objects. Some come so close to Earth that they are classified as near earth objects (NEO). So far, there is no danger from them, but NASA has used its Dart mission to test whether the orbit of one of these celestial bodies can be changed by impacting the surface.
How do you find out more about asteroids?
The Dart mission was a success, even if it produced unexpected results. But to really learn more about asteroids, they need to be studied scientifically using space probes. Although several small meteorites reach Earth every day, their shape and composition are changed by the high temperatures they are exposed to as they pass through our atmosphere.
That’s why space missions like the Japanese space probe Hayabusa-2 (German: Peregrine Falcon 2) also collected samples from the asteroid (162173) Ryugu and brought them back to Earth on December 5, 2020. The next asteroid sample will now reach Earth with the Osiris-Rex (Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security – Regolith Explorer) space probe.
Live broadcast of the sample return by Osiris-Rex
The arrival of the sample will be broadcast live by NASA on its YouTube channel. The stream is scheduled to begin on September 24, 2023 at 4:00 p.m. (CEST). About 42 minutes later, the sealed capsule is expected to enter the Earth’s atmosphere and glide to the ground using a parachute.
The landing zone is located in the Great Salt Lake Desert of the US state of Utah, not far from a Department of Defense test and training range. Only recently, the recovery in the landing zone with a dummy dropped from an aircraft was completed without much difficulty.