Sep 27, 2023 by Fat Fish Farmer
The OSIRIS-REx sample capsule successfully delivered the promised rubble from space and the asteroid Bennu into the desert in the middle of nowhere in Utah on Sunday Sept 24, 2023.
The reentry fall from space from 27,000 mph to 10 mph was a bit dramatic. No one could tell by visual observation during the reentry whether or not the drogue chute deployed up at 123,000 feet. Nail biting time.
The main parachute did deploy and the sample capsule landed successfully in the Department of Defense's Utah Test and Training Range near Dugway, Utah. Hoorah.
The Space Rubble Arrives
For the full blow by blow coverage of the OSIRIS-REx Sample return with NASA pictures and video
See the story on Space.com.
The OSIRIS-REx Sample Capsule and Parachute on the Ground
(Image credit NASA/Keenan Barber)
The sample has since been packaged and flown to Texas and the Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston, TX where it will be curated, preserved, and managed by the agency's Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science (ARES) division.
There’s an interesting name and Roman god reference. Hmmm?
Half a Pound - a Few Billion Miles and Bucks Later
The estimated sample payload is thought to be about 8.8 ounces. The sample will not be opened until Oct 11, 2023.
70% of the Bennu sample will remain at JSC "for study by scientists not yet born, using technologies not yet invented”.
No one bothers to explains why it will be so tough to collect more gravel from other roaming space rocks in the future. Ok. It has been 50 years since we got some new Moon rocks. Sadly, maybe they do have a point.
30% of the sample will be studied by three organizations who participated in the mission.
The ARES science team will have access to about 25% of the Bennu material.
4% of the sample will go to the Canadian Space Agency, which provided OSIRIS-REx's laser altimeter instrument.
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) will receive 0.5% of the material, as part of a deal with NASA that includes collaboration between OSIRIS-REx and JAXA's Hayabusa2 mission, which returned a small sample of the asteroid Ryugu to Earth back in December 2020.
The asteroid Ryugu like Bennu turned out to be another pile of loose gravel and boulders held together loosely by microgravity.
The Future of ORISIS Mission
The OSIRIS-REx (Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification and Security - Regolith Explorer) mission will continue.
The mission and spacecraft have now been officially renamed - OSIRIS-Apex (OSIRIS-Apophis Explorer).
The spacecraft will next intercept and visit with Apophis a larger Near Earth Object (NEO) in Sept 2029.
Apophis is a Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs) asteroid. These are Rocks in the Sky with orbits that will bring them very close to Earth now and for centuries in the future.
See the Space Holy Water post for more Apophis details.
You can read my fun spin on asteroids, comets, and space mining in our Near Future in the techno-thriller Weight of Space.
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