The OSIRIS-Rex spacecraft, which scooped and stowed a 2 ounce sample from the asteroid Bennu in October 2020, will begin its journey back to Earth on May 10, NASA said in a press release on Tuesday
WASHINGTON (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 26th January, 2021) The OSIRIS-Rex spacecraft, which scooped and stowed a 2 ounce sample from the asteroid Bennu in October 2020, will begin its journey back to Earth on May 10, NASA said in a press release on Tuesday.
"Leaving Bennu's vicinity in May puts us in the 'sweet spot,' when the departure maneuver will consume the least amount of the spacecraft's onboard fuel," OSIRIS-REx Deputy Project Manager Michael Moreau said in the release.
Bennu's surface was considerably disturbed after the Touch-and-Go (TAG) sample collection event, with the collector head sinking 1.6 feet (48.8 centimeters) into the asteroid's surface. The spacecraft's thrusters also disturbed a substantial amount of surface material during the back-away burn, according to the release.
As it approaches Earth in September 2023, OSIRIS-REx will jettison the Sample Return Capsule (SRC) toward Earth for a parachute assisted landing in the US state of Utah, the release said.
Scientists hope the material from Bennu will provide new clues about how the solar system formed with Earth as a habitable planet, the release added.