Udayavni Special

NASA spacecraft begins 2-year trip home with asteroid rubble


PTI, May 11, 2021, 11:01 AM IST

Cape Canaveral (US): With rubble from an asteroid tucked inside, a NASA spacecraft fired its engines and began the long journey back to Earth on Monday, leaving the ancient space rock in its rearview mirror.

The trip home for the robotic prospector, Osiris-Rex, will take two years.

Osiris-Rex reached asteroid Bennu in 2018 and spent two years flying near and around it, before collecting rubble from the surface last fall.

The University of Arizona’s Dante Lauretta, the principal scientist, estimates the spacecraft holds between a half pound and 1 pound (200 grams and 400 grams) of mostly bite-size chunks. Either way, it easily exceeds the target of at least 2 ounces (60 grams).

It will be the biggest cosmic haul for the U.S. since the Apollo moon rocks. While NASA has returned comet dust and solar wind samples, this is the first time it’s gone after pieces of an asteroid. Japan has accomplished it twice, but in tiny amounts.

Scientists described Monday”s departure from Bennu’s neighborhood as bittersweet.

“I’ve been working on getting a sample back from an asteroid since my daughter was in diapers and now she’s graduating from high school, so it’s been a long journey,” said NASA project scientist Jason Dworkin.

Added Lauretta: “We have gotten used to being at Bennu and seeing new and exciting images and data coming back to us here on Earth.”

Osiris-Rex was already nearly 200 miles (300 kilometers) from the solar-orbiting Bennu when it fired its main engines Monday afternoon for a fast, clean get-away.

Colorado-based flight controllers for spacecraft builder Lockheed Martin applauded when confirmation arrived of the spacecraft’s departure: “We’re bringing the samples home!”

Scientists hope to uncover some of the solar system’s secrets from the samples vacuumed last October from Bennu”s dark, rough, carbon-rich surface. The asteroid is an estimated 1,600 feet (490 meters) wide and 4.5 billion years old.

Bennu — considered a broken chunk from a bigger asteroid — is believed to hold the preserved building blocks of the solar system. The returning pieces could shed light on how the planets formed and how life arose on Earth. They also could improve Earth’s odds against any incoming rocks.

Although the asteroid is 178 million miles (287 million kilometers) away, Osiris-Rex will put another 1.4 billion miles (2.3 billion kilometers) on its odometer to catch up with Earth.

The SUV-size spacecraft will circle the sun twice before delivering its small sample capsule to Utah”s desert floor on Sept. 24, 2023, to end the more than USD 800 million mission. It launched from Cape Canaveral in 2016.

The precious samples will be housed at a new lab under construction at NASA”s Johnson Space Center in Houston, already home to hundreds of pounds of lunar material collected by the 12 Apollo moonwalkers from 1969 to 1972.

Scientists initially thought the spacecraft stored 2 pounds (1 kilogram) of asteroid rubble, but more recently revised their estimate downward. They won’t know for certain how much is on board until the capsule is opened after touchdown.

“Every bit of sample is valuable,” Dworkin said. “We have to be patient.”

NASA has lots more asteroid projects planned.

Set to launch in October, a spacecraft named Lucy will fly past swarms of asteroids out near Jupiter, while a spacecraft known as Dart will blast off in November in an attempt to redirect an asteroid as part of a planetary protection test.

Then in 2022, the Psyche spacecraft will take off for an odd, metallic asteroid bearing the same name. None of these missions, however, involve sample return.

Cape Canaveral (US), May 11 (AP) With rubble from an asteroid tucked inside, a NASA spacecraft fired its engines and began the long journey back to Earth on Monday, leaving the ancient space rock in its rearview mirror.

The trip home for the robotic prospector, Osiris-Rex, will take two years.

Osiris-Rex reached asteroid Bennu in 2018 and spent two years flying near and around it, before collecting rubble from the surface last fall.

The University of Arizona’s Dante Lauretta, the principal scientist, estimates the spacecraft holds between a half pound and 1 pound (200 grams and 400 grams) of mostly bite-size chunks. Either way, it easily exceeds the target of at least 2 ounces (60 grams).

It will be the biggest cosmic haul for the U.S. since the Apollo moon rocks. While NASA has returned comet dust and solar wind samples, this is the first time it’s gone after pieces of an asteroid. Japan has accomplished it twice, but in tiny amounts.

Scientists described Monday”s departure from Bennu’s neighborhood as bittersweet.

“I’ve been working on getting a sample back from an asteroid since my daughter was in diapers and now she’s graduating from high school, so it’s been a long journey,” said NASA project scientist Jason Dworkin.

Added Lauretta: “We have gotten used to being at Bennu and seeing new and exciting images and data coming back to us here on Earth.”

Osiris-Rex was already nearly 200 miles (300 kilometers) from the solar-orbiting Bennu when it fired its main engines Monday afternoon for a fast, clean get-away.

Colorado-based flight controllers for spacecraft builder Lockheed Martin applauded when confirmation arrived of the spacecraft’s departure: “We’re bringing the samples home!”

Scientists hope to uncover some of the solar system’s secrets from the samples vacuumed last October from Bennu”s dark, rough, carbon-rich surface. The asteroid is an estimated 1,600 feet (490 meters) wide and 4.5 billion years old.

Bennu — considered a broken chunk from a bigger asteroid — is believed to hold the preserved building blocks of the solar system. The returning pieces could shed light on how the planets formed and how life arose on Earth. They also could improve Earth’s odds against any incoming rocks.

Although the asteroid is 178 million miles (287 million kilometers) away, Osiris-Rex will put another 1.4 billion miles (2.3 billion kilometers) on its odometer to catch up with Earth.

The SUV-size spacecraft will circle the sun twice before delivering its small sample capsule to Utah”s desert floor on Sept. 24, 2023, to end the more than USD 800 million mission. It launched from Cape Canaveral in 2016.

The precious samples will be housed at a new lab under construction at NASA”s Johnson Space Center in Houston, already home to hundreds of pounds of lunar material collected by the 12 Apollo moonwalkers from 1969 to 1972.

Scientists initially thought the spacecraft stored 2 pounds (1 kilogram) of asteroid rubble, but more recently revised their estimate downward. They won’t know for certain how much is on board until the capsule is opened after touchdown.

“Every bit of sample is valuable,” Dworkin said. “We have to be patient.”

NASA has lots more asteroid projects planned.

Set to launch in October, a spacecraft named Lucy will fly past swarms of asteroids out near Jupiter, while a spacecraft known as Dart will blast off in November in an attempt to redirect an asteroid as part of a planetary protection test.

Then in 2022, the Psyche spacecraft will take off for an odd, metallic asteroid bearing the same name. None of these missions, however, involve sample return.

Udayavani is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel and stay updated with the latest news.

Top News

Mangaluru: Three booked for trying to extort money posing as MCC officials; One arrested

Covid-19: Serum Institute to begin Novavax Covid 19 vaccine trials for children in July

Rafael Nadal says he will not play at Wimbledon or Tokyo Olympics

Fortis Healthcare says COVID vaccines protected 92% vaccinated healthcare workers

FIR against yoga guru Ramdev for spreading ‘false information’ on allopathy

Yediyurappa’s chair has become more important than problems of people: Siddu

UP: Cops use plastic stool, wicker basket as riot gear amid violent protests, DGP seeks explanation



Related Articles More

Xiaomi, Apple, Samsung among most popular brands in pre-owned smartphone market: Report

The first mobile phone call was 75 years ago – what it takes for technologies to go from breakthrough to big time

China successfully launches first crewed mission for space station construction

VivaTech Summit: Modi calls for ‘repair and prepare’ as India emerges from pandemic

Twitter loses ‘safe harbour’ shield in India over non-compliance to IT rules

MUST WATCH

Heavy rain in Hebri

Udayavani News Bulletin 17-JUN-2021

Rain harvesting: Do you know how much water is stored for 15 minutes of rain?

Chandrakant Rao | Commercial Guava Farming in Udupi

Heavy rain continues in chikkamagaluru

Latest Additions

Mangaluru: Three booked for trying to extort money posing as MCC officials; One arrested

International debate on ”vaccine passports” must focus on ”vaccine equity”: India

Xiaomi, Apple, Samsung among most popular brands in pre-owned smartphone market: Report

Household heating, cooking behind 40 pc of Delhi’s PM 2.5 pollution last Dec, Jan: Study

CureVac: Vaccine data are ”sobering” full results in weeks

Thanks for visiting Udayavani

You seem to have an Ad Blocker on.
To continue reading, please turn it off or whitelist Udayavani.