Representational image of an asteroid.
Photo : Twitter
NASA's OSIRIS-REx sample return capsule landed in Utah on Sunday with samples from asteroid Bennu, completing its seven-year-long journey. The capsule touched down at the Dugway Proving Ground Utah Test and Training Range at 10:52 a.m. EDT.
"This marks the US's first sample return mission of its kind and will open a time capsule to the beginnings of our solar system," Nasa said in a tweet on Sunday.
The capsule was launched from Cape Canaveral Space Force Base in Florida in 2016 with an aim to collect a sample from asteroid Bennu that has a slight chance of hitting Earth late next century.
"We have spent an inordinate amount of time preparing for contingencies, everything that could go wrong, all the horrible things that we might encounter," mission principal investigator Dante Lauretta told the BBC before the capsule landed in Utah.
"But the good news is we've practised and practised and practised and so we're ready to go."
What we know about asteroid Bennu?
Asteroid Bennu was over 4.5 billion years ago. It was discovered on September 11, 1999, by the Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) program.
The asteroid is said to be taller than New York's Empire State Building and 510 meters wide. It could release 1,2000 megatons of energy if it hits our planet.
Scientists believe that there is a 1 in 1,750 chance that "potentially hazardous asteroid" could hit Earth between late 2100s and early 2200s.
“Although the chances of it hitting Earth are very low, Bennu remains one of the two most hazardous known asteroids in our solar system, along with another asteroid called 1950 DA,” explained NASA.