NASA spacecraft stows sample of asteroid to bring back to Earth
NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft successfully tucked away a large sample of the asteroid Bennu for safe-keeping ahead of its eventual return to Earth.
Why it matters: Scientists on Earth plan to use the sample to unlock the secrets of how our solar system formed billions of years ago.
The intrigue: OSIRIS-REx nabbed what appeared to be a sizable sample from the asteroid on Oct. 20, but that sampling jammed up the spacecraft's machinery, allowing some of the material to escape into space.
- That forced NASA to stow the sample before they were able to get an exact measurement of how much they actually collected.
- Mission controllers successfully completed stowing the sample on Wednesday.
- "We can visually confirm an estimated, approximately 400 grams of sample that we can see in the imaging data," Dante Lauretta, OSIRIS-REx principal investigator said during a press conference Thursday. (NASA wanted to collect at least 60 grams of material.)
What's next: The spacecraft is expected to start its journey back to Earth in March 2021, delivering the sample to waiting scientists in 2023.