Incredible Photos Show Historic Moment NASA Landed On Asteroid
Incredible footage and images show the historic moment NASA landed a spacecraft on Bennu, an asteroid located some 200 million miles (321 million kilometers) away from our home planet.
Osiris-Rex successfully touched down on the night of Tuesday, October 20, with the NASA team back here on Earth receiving confirmation at around 6.08 pm EDT.
The purpose of the $1.16 billion mission is to collect samples from the asteroid in the hope of gaining fresh insight into the origin of life on Earth.
You can check out the remarkable footage for yourself below:
Taken during a six-second Touch-And-Go (TAG) sample collection event, the images shows the SamCam imager’s field of view, with the spacecraft approaching and touching down on the surface of asteroid Bennu.
The sampling event brought Osiris-Rex to sample site Nightingale, where it touched down within three feet (one metre) of the target location. Said to be approximately the same size as ‘a small parking lot’, the Nightingale site is one of the few relatively clear sites on asteroid Bennu.
Footage from the asteroid’s surface shows OSIRIS-REx crush through porous rock with its 11-foot mechanical arm, before firing a blast of nitrogen gas; stirring up dirt and rock in a ‘rubble shower’.
Five out of the six seconds of contact were spent sucking up the rubble before performing a ‘back-away burn’.
You can see more footage for yourself below:
Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate at the agency’s headquarters in Washington, said:
This was an incredible feat – and today we’ve advanced both science and engineering and our prospects for future missions to study these mysterious ancient storytellers of the solar system.
A piece of primordial rock that has witnessed our solar system’s entire history may now be ready to come home for generations of scientific discovery, and we can’t wait to see what comes next.
The TAG mission was conducted autonomously, with pre-programmed instructions from engineers in Denver. Going forward, the team will begin assessing whether the spacecraft managed to grab any material, and, if so, how much.
Spacecraft telemetry data reportedly indicates that the TAG event was executed successfully. However, it will now take around a week to confirm the size of the sample which was actually collected. The aim is a minimum of 60 grams, the rough equivalent of a full-size candy bar.
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