(ORDO NEWS) — NASA said Friday that the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft had managed to collect a large sample of particles from the asteroid Bennu – but the probe overdid it.
The team in charge of the probe is now working on packaging the remaining samples, which will eventually be brought back to Earth for study.
“It can be seen that a significant part of the collected mass is escaping,” – said the head of the mission Dante Lauretta in a telephone briefing with reporters.
OSIRIS-REx is due to return home in September 2023, and we hope it will be the largest ever returned from space since the Apollo era, helping to unravel the origin of our solar system.
According to Lauretta, the probe collected about 400 grams of debris, far more than the required minimum of 60 grams. But the manifold cover at the end of the probe arm, where the fragments are stored, has not closed tightly due to large rocks, leading to a leak, scientists suspect.
Five to 10 grams have already been found around the collection arm in the cloud, which remains more or less in the surrounding area due to the probe’s microgravity.
As a result, the work on measuring the mass was canceled, as this could lead to scattering of other samples.
The challenge now is to minimize the spacecraft’s activity and prepare as quickly as possible to place the material in the capsule on the probe.
Is OSIRIS-REx at risk of losing its treasure? The extent of the leak is not yet known exactly, but experts are confident that it is not.
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