(ORDO NEWS) — NASA said Thursday that its robotic spacecraft, Osiris-Rex, was able to lay down rock and dust samples taken from asteroid Bennu after a jammed shutter put the task at risk.
“We are here to announce today that we have successfully completed this operation,” said Rich Burns, mission project manager.
The probe is on a mission to collect fragments that scientists hope will help unravel the origin of our solar system, but ran into an obstacle after capturing an oversized sample.
Fragments of the asteroid’s surface in the collector at the end of the three-meter arm of the probe slowly flew into space, because some stones interfered with the complete closure of the compartment.
This hand made contact with the asteroid Bennu for a few seconds last Tuesday at the climax of a mission launched from Earth about four years ago.
NASA said Thursday that it had managed to move a robotic arm holding the leaking particles into a storage capsule near the center of the spacecraft the day before, and close the capsule lid.
It was a delicate two-day procedure, requiring the team to evaluate images and data from the previous step at each step.
The probe is 320 million kilometers away, so it takes 18.5 minutes for its signals to reach Earth, and any signal from the control room takes the same amount of time to reach Osiris-Rex.
Osiris-Rex is due to return to Earth in September 2023.
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