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NASA's Osiris-Rex probe: A sample from the asteroid Bennu weighing more than 121 grams

NASA's Osiris-Rex probe: A sample from the asteroid Bennu weighing more than 121 grams

NASA's Osiris-Rex probe brought a total of 121.6 grams of material from asteroid Bennu to Earth, more than twice the intended amount. The US Space Agency has now announced this. There was another 51.6 grams of samples in the main container, which was inaccessible for several months. Before it was difficult to open, 70.3 grams had already been seized. In all, at least 70% of the asteroid sample will remain at NASA's Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center for further research, while the rest will go to research institutions and museums around the world. A catalog of all materials will be published in the spring.

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Details from sample picture
(Image: NASA/Erika Blumenfeld and Joseph Aebersold)

Osiris Rex collected the sample from the asteroid Bennu and dropped it above Earth at the end of September. Large quantities of material outside the actual sample container have already been seized; The rest was secured, among other things, through more than 35 closures. This should also protect it from contamination by Earth's atmosphere. In mid-October, it was discovered that two locks could not be opened. Since the sample container can only be worked on in a special sealed container and using specially approved tools, special screwdrivers had to be developed. It was only in mid-January that we were finally able to open the container.

The 121 grams now available for research is also 20 times more than the Japanese probes Hayabusa and Hayabusa 2 brought to Earth. Preliminary analyzes have already found a lot of carbon and water in the material extracted from Bennu, the building blocks of life on Earth. The specimens are extremely valuable for research because they are believed to be more than four billion years old and provide a glimpse into the origins of the solar system and our Earth. With the material now catalogued, researchers around the world should be able to request parts of it; Several samples have already been sent. It can even be admired in a museum.

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