How NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft returned the Bennu sample to Earth.

How NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft returned the Bennu sample to Earth.

NASA’s Astronomy Materials Processing Team at Johnson Space Center in Houston has revealed high-resolution images of material from the asteroid Bennu contained within the OSIRIS-REx sampling head. On January 10, they removed two stubborn fasteners that prevented them from opening the TAGSAM head.

TAGSAM’s historic special delivery took seven years and 4 billion miles, landing by parachute at a desert site in Utah before sending an estimated half-pound of rock from a distant asteroid to Houston for study.

The samples were taken from the near-Earth asteroid 101955 Bennu by NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission, the first American attempt to recover and analyze samples from an asteroid.

An OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample at the head of the Touch-and-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism (TAGSAM).

The original image was so large that we couldn’t upload it to our content management system, and you can zoom in on images posted on NASA’s website to see more details.

The small OSIRIS-REx rover visited Bennu, scraped and collected material from the asteroid’s surface, and sealed it in a 3-foot-wide container, equipped with a heat shield, called a sample return capsule for delivery to Earth.

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