NASA has announced that on Sunday, samples collected from the asteroid Bennu will make their way back to Earth through a fiery descent.

NASA has announced that on Sunday, samples collected from the asteroid Bennu will make their way back to Earth through a fiery descent.

rocks and dust collected1998 OR2

An asteroid called 1998 OR2 is the source of this information.Bennu — leftovers from the formation of the solar system 4.5 billion years ago — is expected to slam into Earth’s atmosphere at a blistering 27,650 mph on Sunday.

The craft will experience extreme atmospheric resistance, causing it to quickly decelerate and exposing its heat shield to temperatures exceeding 5,000 degrees. This will occur as the capsule moves towards a 37-mile-long landing area at the Army’s Dugway Proving Ground and Utah Test and Training Range.

After two minutes of entering, when the craft is at an altitude of 20 miles, a small drogue parachute will be released to stabilize and reduce the speed of the craft. This will be followed by the unfurling of a 24-foot-wide main parachute at a height of 5,000 feet above the Utah desert.


The spacecraft is predicted to make a smooth landing at 10:55 a.m. ET, marking the conclusion of its seven-year, four-billion-mile voyage.

OSIRIS-REx is the initial U.S. venture to gather a sample from an asteroid. The name is derived from the words Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification and Security Regolith Explorer, which form the acronym.

On September 8, 2016, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft and sample return capsule were launched from Cape Canaveral using a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket. The spacecraft is equipped with three cameras, two spectrometers, a laser altimeter, and an X-ray imaging system that was created by college students.

To reach Bennu, which orbits in a plane tilted six degrees from Earth’s, OSIRIS-REx looped around the sun and then made a velocity-boosting gravity-assist flyby
On September 22, 2017, the ship eventually returned to Earth.

Entered into the gravitational pull of Bennu and began orbiting it. in late 2018.

Researchers were surprised by their discovery. Rather than the expected composition of a solid core covered by fine-grained soil and rocks, Bennu was found to be a loosely packed collection of debris that exhibited fluid-like behavior instead of solid behavior.

Lauretta described it as a mesmerizing heavenly body. To put its size into perspective, it measures just over 1,600 feet, roughly equivalent to the height of the Empire State Building. Bennu can be envisioned as a petite mountain adrift in the vastness of space.

“The appearance of this object is quite fascinating. It resembles a droplet composed of rock, gravel, and boulders, barely held together by its own microgravity.”


A visual depiction of the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft orbiting the asteroid Bennu, showing its extended robot arm and sample collection mechanism. NASA

After thorough mapping to locate a secure spot for collecting a sample, the spacecraft OSIRIS-REx has found a suitable point.

Gradually decreased altitude towards the ground.

On October 20, 2020, the TAGSAM, a pie pan-shaped mechanism for collecting samples known as the “Touch-And-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism,” was positioned at the tip of an 11-foot-long robotic arm.

When the probe made contact, it released a stream of nitrogen gas into the 12-inch-wide TAGSAM. This caused the soil and small rocks underneath to be disturbed and some of the material was captured in collection filters. After that, the spacecraft changed direction and moved away.

During an interview, Lauretta stated that the spacecraft moved downward without any resistance, resembling a fluid. They descended around 50 centimeters (20 inches) and if they had not used the back-away thrusters, they may have collided with the asteroid and vanished.

Following its departure from Bennu, the TAGSAM instrument and its valuable samples were stored inside the OSIRIS-REx return capsule for the lengthy journey back to Earth and the dramatic re-entry that took place on Sunday.


On October 20, 2020, the OSIRIS-REx sample collection device successfully collects approximately half a pound of rocks and dust from the surface of the asteroid Bennu. This material will be brought back to Earth for further study. NASA

Returning to the beginning of the solar system’s existence.

The planned flight schedule dictates that the return capsule will detach from the mothership at 6:42 a.m. ET. After 20 minutes, the OSIRIS-REx craft is scheduled to use its thrusters to adjust its trajectory for a near encounter with the asteroid Apophis in 2029.

Apophis, measuring approximately 1,200 feet in diameter, is expected to pass within 20,000 miles of Earth in 2029. The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft, which will be renamed the OSIRIS-Apophis Explorer at that time, will begin orbiting Apophis soon after the asteroid’s flyby of Earth, initiating an extended period of observations.

The focus is on the Bennu samples that will return to Earth on Sunday, and Lauretta is filled with excitement.

“We are revisiting the early stages of the solar system in search of answers to why Earth is a livable planet. It is a precious gem in the vastness of space, with oceans and a protective atmosphere,” he stated. “We hypothesize that these vital components were delivered by carbon-rich asteroids during the initial formation of our planetary system.”

The main focus of my scientific research is the origin of life, which poses the greatest question. What exactly is life? How did it come into existence? And why did it happen on Earth? We hypothesize that the material we are retrieving may contain remnants of the building blocks of life that were delivered by asteroids during the early stages of our planet.

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