NASA is conducting a rehearsal before returning an asteroid sample

After landing on an asteroid nearly three years ago Take a sample from its rocky surface, the OSIRIS-REx mission is finally in the home range. NASA is preparing for the special delivery of the rock sample next month, and the agency just had the most realistic rehearsal for the big day.

from July 18 to 20, the team behind the mission trained to retrieve a dummy sample return capsule at the Department of Defense’s Utah Test and Training Range, the same site where the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will drop the real asteroid sample, NASA books in a blog post.

The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is It is scheduled to drop a sample from the asteroid Bennu On the 24th of September. The plan is for the spacecraft to drop off its precious payload as it flies by, after which the capsule containing the asteroid samples will make a parachute-assisted landing in the Utah desert. The capsule should descend at 37 miles by 9 miles (59 km by 15 km) about 13 minutes after being launched by the spacecraft, but that’s not even the hard part.

Once it touches the ground, ground teams must move quickly to move the sample to a clean room to avoid contaminating it with material from our planet (which would spoil the entire mission). So, the pressure is on to make this process seamless.

صورة للمقال بعنوان NASA Transports Mock Asteroid Sample أثناء استعداده لعودة OSIRIS-RExpicture: NASA/Keegan Barber.

About 80 miles (128 kilometers) southwest of Salt Lake City, the team behind the mission collected soil samples from the desert to put them in a dummy capsule similar to the one holding the asteroid sample. The team members then practiced packing the dummy sample capsule to board a helicopter for transport to a makeshift clean room.

صورة للمقال بعنوان NASA Transports Mock Asteroid Sample أثناء استعداده لعودة OSIRIS-RExpicture: NASA/Keegan Barber.

Once packed, the dummy capsule was picked up by a helicopter to practice the short flight to the temporary clean room located on site at the military range.

Recovery crews will also collect soil and air samples around the capsule’s landing area to help determine if any contaminants came into contact with the asteroid sample.

This is NASA’s first attempt to recover a sample from an asteroid and it took a long time to make. OSIRIS-REx was launched on September 8, 2016 and met near-Earth asteroid Bennu in October 2020. After hitting a chunk of the asteroid, OSIRIS-REx began its return home. By bringing the asteroid sample back to Earth, scientists will be able to closely analyze the space rock to help uncover clues about how life originated on Earth and whether asteroids carry the building blocks of life to our planet.

After dropping OSIRIS-REx from the Bennu sample back to Earth, the spacecraft will embark on another adventure to explore the asteroid Apophis in 2029.

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