US space probe Osiris-Rex heads home with asteroid dust

The US Space Sample Osiris-Rex left on Monday, to start its long journey back to earth, the asteroid Bennu from which it took dust samples last year.

Before it landed in Utah on September 24, 2023, the probe also has a long way to cover.

On the NASA video broadcast of the incident, Dante Lauretta, head of the campaign, said that Osiris-Rex is now "now moving from Bennu at 600 miles an hour."

For seven minutes, the spacecraft's thrusting devices were engaged in the right journey home for the probe of 1.4 billion miles without incident (2.3 billion kilometers).

This is the largest sample found by NASA since the Moon Rocks taken back by Apollo missions and carries more than 60 grams of dust and bits of the asteroid.

To this end, in October 2020, the US space agency conducted a high-risk operation: the probe contacted the asteroid for a few seconds and the dust sample which had then been taken was released by an explosion of compressed nitrogen.

The surprising thing for NASA was that the arm of the probe sunk some centimeters into the asteroid, suggesting that the scientific experts were "very poorly consolidated the surfaces of these debris pile asteroids," said Lauretta.

When NASA a few days later discovered that the selection valve did not close, allowing fragments to escape into space, the entire mission almost failed.

However, after transportation to a capsule located in the middle of the spacecraft, the precious freight was eventually secured.

In two and a half years, a parachute device shall open the capsule several hours before it enters the atmosphere of the world.

The samples are then send to NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, but 75% will remain intact for study by future generations that are not yet in the path of advanced technology, the agency said.

The research could help scientists better understand solar system structure and earth's evolution as a living planet.

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