OSIRIS-REx Mission Faces Challenges in Unlocking Bennu Asteroid Samples

UNITED STATES: NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission is on the cusp of unlocking the secrets within an asteroid sample collected from Bennu. However, it hasn’t been without challenges.

Last month, a NASA capsule landed in Utah, carrying the largest asteroid samples ever collected. These specimens offer insights into the solar system’s early days and the origins of life.

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Initially, the OSIRIS-REx team appeared to have exceeded expectations, collecting 2.48 ounces (70.3 grams) of rocks and dust from the TAGSAM head, surpassing the mission’s 60-gram goal.

But the real test came when they encountered difficulty opening the TAGSAM head, which houses the bulk of the material.

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In the past week, the team struggled to open the TAGSAM head. They discovered that two of the 35 fasteners couldn’t be removed using the current tools approved for the OSIRIS-REx glovebox.

A recent NASA blog post reported that the team is working to develop new approaches to extract the material while ensuring the sample’s safety and preservation.

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The OSIRIS-REx mission emphasizes curation work to maintain the sample’s pristine state. All procedures occur in a specialized glovebox under nitrogen flow to preserve its scientific integrity.

OSIRIS-REx isn’t the first mission to return asteroid samples. Japan succeeded twice in 2010 and 2020. These international efforts are crucial for understanding celestial bodies in our solar system.

Bennu was chosen for the OSIRIS-REx mission because it’s rich in organic compounds. This raises the possibility that similar asteroids delivered organic building blocks to Earth through ancient collisions.

While Bennu poses no threat to Earth until the mid-2100s, the mission also plays a pivotal role in planetary defense by providing insights into potentially hazardous near-Earth objects.

As the OSIRIS-REx team works to overcome this challenge, the world eagerly awaits the unveiling of knowledge within the TAGSAM head. This mission showcases human ingenuity and the pursuit of scientific discovery, expanding our understanding of the universe.

Also Read: NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Mission Reveals Abundant Carbon and Water in Asteroid Bennu Sample

  • Mechanical engineering graduate, writes about science, technology and sports, teaching physics and mathematics, also played cricket professionally and passionate about bodybuilding.

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Originally posted 2023-10-25 05:21:00.