Samples of Asteroid Bennu, Which arrived on Earth last Sunday on the mission Osiris Rex From NASA, They’ve already arrived in Houston It can be analyzed in a pollutant-free laboratory or “clean room” by specialized scientists.
The day after it arrived in the Utah desert from space, the cosmic matter was transported in a spacecraft Maximum security operation A US Air Force C-17 landed at Ellington Field. From there they were transferred to Johnson Space Center of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
The team of scientists is scheduled to spend the next few weeks in Laboratory clean room It is designed exclusively for analyzing Bennu samples It is picked up by a robotic arm For nearly three years, On October 20, 2020.
After its release from NASA Kennedy Space Center, In Florida on September 8, 2016, after encountering this asteroid to explore it and orbit it, NASA was able to bring it to Earth. About 250 grams of the vital cosmic component of the earth’s soil.
However, the exact amount will be known when the container is opened, as some fragments spilled and floated when the spacecraft collected too many samples and rocks got stuck in the lid, about three years ago.
Anyway, he’s about to The greatest spoils from beyond the moon. Sunday’s sample return represents the first sample return mission of its kind in the United States and “It will open a time capsule To the beginnings of our solar system.
It is likely that Benno A Well-preserved remains of the early solar system that are 4.5 billion years old, NASA added that the sample should provide information about the role similar asteroids played in planet formation and transporting organic materials and water to Earth that may have ultimately led to the emergence of life.
NASA plans to share these preliminary results, as well as the first images of the sample, at a press conference Live broadcast next October 11.
According to the government agency, the data collected from The OSIRIS-REx mission will also help scientists better understand which asteroids could impact Earth And providing information about future deviations from it.
After practicing the procedure for several months to extract samples from the capsule, scientists and technicians plan Follow the several steps to extract the sample From TAGSAM or space capsule receiving box. First, they plan to put the boat in the glove compartment and disassemble it. Next, they plan to remove the head from TAGSAM, where scientists expect most of the samples to be, and to catalog and store every piece of hardware and asteroid dust found outside it.
Researchers They plan to analyze the asteroid dust from the initial dismantling To get an early idea of the chemical, mineralogical and physical properties and types of rocks that can be found in the massive sample.
It must be remembered that 3 scientists from NASA and the University of Arizona remained at the landing site, along with a military security specialist and a helicopter pilot, to collect “soil and air samples from the area to catalog everything they discovered.” “It could have been exposed.”
“If air or soil somehow gets into the sample container inside the capsule, scientists will have to take those contaminants into account when analyzing the chemical composition of Bennu dust,” the specialists explained.
At the same time, they stressed that “the goal of the mission is research Molecules that may have been important for the origin of life on Earth (or perhaps in other parts of the solar system).”
The reason for this behavior is that “many of these compounds are abundant in the Earth’s environment. Therefore, to preserve science and more easily distinguish between molecules on Earth and those in space, the sample must be protected from environmental contamination.
“Once the disassembly team opens the capsule, removes the various components, and exposes the unopened sample container, the plan is to connect the container to a device Continuous nitrogen flowWhich will be monitored every hour. NASA experts said this would protect the Bennu sample from oxygen, moisture and other contaminants.
While they warned that if “loose asteroid particles are found inside the capsule, they will be collected and placed in aluminum cups for transport to Johnson.”
The fact is that scientists are very excited to study these specimensBecause they think so Bennu is a remnant of the early solar system Thus its material can be highlighted How did the planets form in our solar system?
These samples will likely reveal the basic elements that led to life on Earth. However, there is no reason to suggest there is anything biological about Bennu.
“Successful delivery of Bennu samples to Earth It is a triumph of collaborative ingenuity and a testament to what we can achieve when we come together for a common goal. “Today represents an extraordinary milestone not only for the OSIRIS-REx team but for science as a whole,” he said. dante lauretta, The principal investigator for the space mission in University of ArizonaTowson minutes after landing.
“But let’s not forget: Although this may seem like the end of an incredible chapter, it actually is It’s just the beginning of another. We now have an unprecedented opportunity to analyze these samples and dig deeper Secrets of our solar system“The expert added.
Most of the samples will be analyzed in Houston, but a portion will be analyzed It was sent to 200 laboratories around the world. In fact, a portion of these samples will once again be contained under pure nitrogen so that they can be analyzed in the future when other, more advanced techniques become available.