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NASA faces a surprise when opening the capsule containing asteroid material

NASA faces a surprise when opening the capsule containing asteroid material

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NASA experts are slowly making their way to material from the asteroid Bennu, brought to Earth by the OSIRIS-REx space probe – and they were surprised.

HOUSTON – A rock sample has been in the area since September 24 Asteroids “Bennu” is on Earth and is currently being used by researchers from the American Space Agency NASA to examine. But the capsule containing the asteroid material is opening more slowly than expected – and “for the best reasons,” as NASA itself says. The capsule is literally overflowing with asteroid material. There is so much asteroid dust in the capsule that the scientific container containing the actual asteroid rock has not yet been opened.

The capsule itself, which was dropped from NASA’s Osiris-Rex spacecraft over the Utah desert, protects the so-called TAGSAM head, which sampled the asteroid in October 2020. Rock star and astrophysicist Brian May also helped, as the scientific container contains the majority of the material. asteroid. But to get there, it appears researchers will first have to make their way through the material outside the capsule’s TAGSAM head.

NASA “Osiris-Rex” mission: more asteroid material than expected

This is a surprise for the participating scientists. According to NASA, the asteroid material was expected to be found outside the scientific container. But the amount actually found still surprises researchers. “The best problem is that there is a lot of material that is taking longer than we expected to collect it,” says NASA employee Christopher Sneed. “There’s a lot of rich material outside of TAGSAM’s head that is also interesting in its own right. It’s really amazing that we have all this material there.”

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The capsule in which the asteroid samples were transported to Earth is open. Inside is the scientific container containing the asteroid samples. © NASA/Robert Markowitz

Experts are currently conducting rapid preliminary analyzes of the asteroid material located outside the scientific container. The plan is to get a preliminary understanding of the material Asteroid Bennu To happen. The researchers also want to know what to expect from the main sample. “We have all the microanalysis techniques that we can use to actually dissect a sample, almost down to the atomic level,” Lindsay Keller of the Osiris-Rex sample analysis team once confirmed. Advertisement from NASA.

NASA wants to display the actual asteroid sample to the public soon

In the coming weeks, the actual asteroid sample, including the TAGSAM head, will be placed in a special glove box that is tightly sealed from the outside. The scientific container is then carefully opened to retrieve the actual rock sample. NASA wants to obtain the asteroid sample on October 11 Appearing in public for the first timeSo there is a lot of work ahead for scientists.

Researchers hope to get lots of Bennu samples — after all, asteroids are leftovers from when the asteroid formed Solar SystemWhich has been preserved in the cold of space. At stake are some of humanity’s biggest questions: Did asteroids once bring water to Earth? And might they be responsible for bringing some of the essential elements of life to Earth? Many research teams will work on these questions and on samples taken from the asteroid Bennu during the coming months and years. (unpaid bill)