NASA Prepares for Arrival of First US Asteroid Sample

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Updated: 7:29 PM, Thu August 31, 2023

NASA Prepares for Arrival of First US Asteroid Sample

A team of NASA scientists is eagerly anticipating the arrival of the first US asteroid sample, which is set to land on Earth in September aboard the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft. OSIRIS-REx, short for Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, and Security-Regolith Explorer, is the first US mission designed to collect a sample from an asteroid. The spacecraft is scheduled to return to Earth on September 24 carrying approximately 8.8 ounces of rocky material gathered from the surface of asteroid Bennu in 2020.

To ensure a successful landing, a mockup of the OSIRIS-REx sample capsule was dropped from an aircraft on Wednesday and safely reached the designated drop zone at the Department of Defense’s Utah Test and Training Range. This drop test marked the final major trial before the actual capsule arrives.

Nicola Fox, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, expressed excitement about the approaching moment of receiving a significant piece of solar system history on Earth. Fox stated, Pristine material from asteroid Bennu will help shed light on the formation of our solar system 4.5 billion years ago, and perhaps even on how life on Earth began.

This recent drop test followed a series of previous rehearsals performed by the OSIRIS-REx team, including capsule recovery, spacecraft engineering operations, and sample curation procedures. With less than four weeks remaining until the spacecraft’s arrival, the team is now concluding their preparations and eagerly awaits the actual delivery.

The sample collected from the asteroid will provide valuable insights into the formation of our planet and solar system, as well as the origin of organics that potentially contributed to the existence of life on Earth.

The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is expected to enter Earth’s atmosphere at 10:42 a.m. EDT on September 24, traveling at a speed of approximately 27,650 mph. Rich Burns, project manager for OSIRIS-REx at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, compared this stage of the mission to the final leg of a marathon, blending emotions of pride and joy with a determined focus to finish the race well.

Once the asteroid sample is retrieved, it will be carefully documented and cared for at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston before being distributed for analysis among scientists worldwide.

In conclusion, NASA’s preparations for the arrival of the first US asteroid sample are nearing completion. The mission of OSIRIS-REx to collect material from asteroid Bennu and return it to Earth holds the promise of unlocking valuable knowledge about the formation of our solar system and the potential origins of life on our planet. As the spacecraft approaches its destination, the anticipation among the scientists involved continues to grow.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Related to the Above News

What is the current status of NASA's preparations for the arrival of the US asteroid sample?

NASA has finalized its preparations and is ready for the arrival of the first-ever US asteroid sample.

When is the asteroid sample expected to land on Earth?

The asteroid sample is expected to land on Earth in September.

How much rocky material is the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft returning with?

The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will be returning with approximately 8.8 ounces of rocky material from the surface of asteroid Bennu.

How did NASA ensure a successful retrieval of the asteroid sample?

NASA conducted a critical drop test of a mockup of the OSIRIS-REx sample capsule, which landed perfectly at the designated drop zone.

What insights can the asteroid sample provide researchers?

The collection of this asteroid sample is expected to provide valuable insights into the formation of our planet and solar system, as well as the origin of organics that may have played a role in the emergence of life on Earth.

When is the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft set to enter Earth's atmosphere?

The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is set to enter Earth's atmosphere on September 24 at around 10:42 a.m. EDT.

Where will the asteroid sample be cared for and analyzed?

Once safely retrieved, the sample will be carefully documented and cared for at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston before being distributed to scientists worldwide for extensive analysis.

What is the significance of the arrival of the US asteroid sample?

The arrival of the US asteroid sample not only presents an invaluable opportunity to understand the mysteries of our solar system's past but also showcases human ingenuity and dedication in the pursuit of scientific discovery.

Please note that the FAQs provided on this page are based on the news article published. While we strive to provide accurate and up-to-date information, it is always recommended to consult relevant authorities or professionals before making any decisions or taking action based on the FAQs or the news article.

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