A saucer-shaped capsule
A potential source of information about the origins of the solar system collided with the Earth’s atmosphere on Sunday and successfully landed in Utah with the help of a parachute, concluding a thrilling journey spanning seven years and four billion miles.
At 10:42 a.m. EDT, the 110-pound capsule containing half a pound of rocks and soil from the asteroid Bennu, which was collected in 2020, was released from the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft. It reached the top of the atmosphere, 82 miles above, four hours later at a speed of 27,000 mph.
In the following two minutes, the capsule dramatically slowed down due to intense atmospheric friction. Its heat shield experienced temperatures higher than 5,000 degrees and a braking force 32 times stronger than the force of gravity as it descended towards its landing location at the Utah Test and Training Range in western Salt Lake City.