The OSIRIS-REx mission is approaching its final stop as it approaches Earth after a seven-year round trip to the asteroid Bennu. The capsule containing the sample is scheduled to blast through the atmosphere on September 24.

The mission, Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, and Safety Explorer-Regolith, was launched in September 2016 aboard the United Launch Alliance Atlas V to begin its journey to the near-Earth asteroid and after a two-year journey through space reached orbit. About Pino in December 2018.

The orbiter has been studying the asteroid for about two years, looking for a suitable site to make its direct landing in order to collect a viable sample from the asteroid. After a thorough survey of the orb, which sometimes orbits less than a mile above the surface, NASA selected its location and ordered the orbiter to lower itself to the surface to obtain the sample.

The objective of the mission was to collect 2.1 ounces of regolith. After the maneuver was over, the orbiter backed away from Bennu with its sample. However, things were not smooth sailing, as the cap of the sample tube was not airtight and was leaking back into space. When mission controllers saw this, they instructed the spacecraft to store the tube in the prototype return capsule.

At first, the teams didn’t know if they’d managed to get a 2.1-ounce sample, but after measurements, they concluded they had at least 8.1 ounces of regolith from Bennu, according to Dante Laurita, principal investigator for OSIRIS-REx from the University of California, San Francisco. California. Arizona, Tucson.

Once the sample was secured in the capsule, OSIRIS-REx left Bennu orbit in May 2021 for the return trip to Earth.

Back on the ground in Utah, recovery teams have now run multiple recovery day tests, including multiple simulated falls from an airplane and training to ensure the sample was handled carefully and not contaminated after landing.

Teams will conduct reconnaissance before launching sample-return capsules from the orbiter, and if a no is given for some reason, they won’t have a chance to retrieve the sample until 2025 after a perilous trip so close to the sun.

Once launched, the capsule will be released from the orbiter 4 hours before the scheduled re-entry time. The capsule will hit the atmosphere at 27,000 miles per hour, followed by parachute deployment and a soft landing at 10 miles per hour. The orbiter will maneuver after launch so it does not enter the atmosphere and will carry out an entirely new mission to study the asteroid Apophis.

Scientists hope to gain a better understanding of how the Earth and the solar system formed, and a successful sample return will yield many exciting discoveries.

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