The NASA capsule carrying the sample collected from asteroid Bennu landed in Utah
Photo : Twitter
The NASA capsule carrying the sample collected from asteroid Bennu landed in Utah. A part of the Osiris-Rex mission, it contains around 250g of rocks and dust.
What is next?
The next phase in the mission is recovery. The NASA team will rush to the landing site and start the process of bringing the capsule to the military base where they will examine the Bennu sample.
NASA shared its first visual of the capsule - a dark grey blob - in the desert. The first helicopter will reach the landing spot and help transport the sample back to the military base. Then starts the recovery operation.
The dust and small rock fragments will be sent to researchers all around the world. The mission team will have access to the largest amount. The Canadian Space Agency gets 4% and the Japanese Space Agency will be given 0.5% of the asteroid sample. Some of the material will also be stored at a secure facility in New Mexico.
According to experts, the carbon-rich asteroid near Earth serves as a time capsule into the history of the solar system. Scientists believe that the sample will provide important clues to help us understand the origins of water and what may have led to life on Earth.
Asteroid Bennu is a 4.5-billion-year-old remnant of the early solar system. It passes relatively close to our planet every six years. NASA launched the robotic spacecraft Osiris-Rex on 8 September 2016 and it arrived at asteroid Bennu in December 2018. The asteroid is 500m (1,600ft) across.