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The container containing the asteroid sample does not open

The container containing the asteroid sample does not open

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NASA’s mission to Bennu faces unexpected problems. While researchers are already presenting preliminary results, some samples are still pending.

Houston – About three months have passed since NASA’s OSIRIS-REx probe returned to Earth with soil samples from the asteroid Bennu. But NASA experts have not yet been able to fully open the container containing the samples. In October, the Johnson Space Center in Houston discovered that the lid of the sample container could not be opened completely. Two screws are tight. Using tweezers, experts were able to recover at least part of the valuable cargo. Added to this is the material outside the actual container.

So far, NASA has been able to secure 70.3 grams of samples from the asteroid “Bennu” and distribute some of them to research teams. Frank Brinker and his team at Goethe University in Frankfurt also received a physical sample. “We examined this last week in Hamburg at DESY using synchrotron XRF and tomography,” the researcher said when asked. merkur.de from IPPEN.MEDIA.

NASA cannot open an asteroid sample

Meanwhile, NASA in the United States of America continues to puzzle over the asteroid sample and the container it is in. Dante Lauretta, the principal scientist for the Bennu mission, It is suspected otherwise natureAnother 30 to 70 grams of the precious asteroid material remains in the container. “It’s kind of a Schrödinger test,” Loretta says, referring to the “Schrödinger’s Cat” thought experiment. “We don’t know what’s out there.”

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The sample container containing the material from the asteroid Bennu is in a so-called “glove box” and surrounded by nitrogen. It can only be opened in this chest. (Archive photo) © IMAGO/Cover Images

NASA is not giving up hope of being able to recover asteroid material. However, one challenge is that the sample must be handled inside a so-called “glove box.” This device is filled with nitrogen to avoid contamination of valuable space materials. Only special tools can be used in this box. There is currently no tool that can remove the two remaining screws, so NASA is developing a new tool.

In one opinion Gizmodo “The design, development, and testing of new instruments made of contamination-resistant materials are underway to safely complement sampling in the glove box,” says a NASA spokesperson. There is a planned timeframe for this, although it is still a ways off. “Depending on the timing of construction and testing, we expect it to open in the first quarter of 2024,” the statement said.

Research teams describe asteroid samples

Meanwhile, research teams are providing preliminary descriptions of the recovered asteroid materials. According to Loretta, preliminary analyzes indicate that fragments of the asteroid “Bennu” are rich in volatile chemical compounds. They have been preserved in the cold depths of space since the formation of the solar system more than 4.5 billion years ago – and are providing researchers with insight into the past. “That alone makes the whole mission worthwhile,” Loretta asserts. “We now have a lot of virgin material” from the early days of the solar system.

Frankfurt scientist Frank Brinker and his team plan to begin further investigations this week. Reverse merkur.de He offers a little glimpse into what his team has seen so far: “The amount of carbonate actually surprised us.”

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The editor wrote this article and then used an AI language model to improve at her own discretion. All information has been carefully checked. Find out more about our AI principles here.