|Manu||Date: Wednesday, 12-May-2021, 3:27 PM | Message # 1|
|Nasa spacecraft leaves asteroid Bennu with a belly full of space rock samples|
Osiris-Rex has been flying around the ancient asteroid since 2018 and collected nearly a pound of rubble last fall
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 (200gr to 400gr) of mostly bite-size chunks. Either way, it easily exceeds the target of at least 2 ounces (60g).
It will be the biggest cosmic haul for the US 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.
Read more/full article/source - https://www.theguardian.com/science....samples