After a long journey of over two years, NASA’s spacecraft has successfully landed at its target asteroid aiming to collect samples to bring back to Earth.
NASA celebrated yesterday as its OSIRIS-REx spacecraft has successfully arrived at the asteroid Bennu after covering a journey of more than two years.
The OSIRIS-REx was launched in September 2016 for a seven-year-long mission with a goal to collect a sample from asteroid Bennu and return it back to Earth for further analysis of the sample. The spacecraft will spend over a year on the asteroid where it will be busy surveying and mapping the space rock. The researchers will then use that data to select a sample, reported Engadget.
Once the researchers are done selecting, the OSIRIS-REx will then bounce off of the surface of Bennu, while collecting a sample of the asteroid’s surface as it does. It will then start to head back to its home planet Earth in 2021 and if all goes well, it will land back by September 2023.
Bennu is expected to be rich in carbon-based organic molecules dating back to the earliest days of the solar system. It is also thought to have water to be trapped in its minerals. Also, the asteroid is thought to have one-in-2,700 chance of catastrophically crashing to Earth 160 years from now, South China Morning Post.