According to NASA, the capsule contains about 250 grams of debris that the probe collected from the asteroid about three years ago. The probe is intended to drop the capsule at an altitude of around 102,000 kilometers above Earth. If everything goes according to plan, it will land at a US military base in Utah in the late afternoon Central European Time and will then be taken to the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, for further examinations. Around 200 experts want to analyze the rock samples there.
NASA considers the mission to be historic: The six-meter-long probe was launched into space seven years ago and reached its destination in 2020 to collect soil samples. If the sample return is successful, it would be the first asteroid sample NASA has ever brought to Earth and the largest sample of its kind overall. The results of the investigation are intended to contribute to the understanding of the formation of the solar system. The experts also hope to obtain important information about the asteroid Bennu, which is classified as dangerous and could potentially come close to Earth in around 150 years.
This message was sent on September 24th, 2023 on the Deutschlandfunk program.