The NASA Spacecraft called the “Osiris-Rex” has started a two year long journey back to the earth.
- The spacecraft reached asteroid Bennu in 2018.
- It then spent two years flying around it and collected rubbles.
Note: Rubbles are rough fragments of brick, stones.
- 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.
About the OSIRIS-Rex:
- The mission launched to study asteroid Bennu spent 2.5 years mapping its surface.
- In 2020, the scientists directed Osiris Rex to drop down and collect sixty kilo grams of regolith (top soil).
- They also found that the asteroid has lots of accessible water.
- The mission will help to understand the origin and evolution of solar system.
- Bennu — considered a broken chunk from a bigger asteroid — is believed to hold the preserved building blocks of the solar system.
- It is the most hazardous asteroids currently known to the earth. Meaning it has one in 2,700 chances of hitting the earth in the late 22nd century.
- It makes its closest approach to the earth once in six years.
- The size of Bennu also makes it approachable.
- Most of the asteroids spin very fast. This rapid spinning makes it difficult for the spacecrafts to collect samples.
- 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.
However, Bennu is not the first mission on an asteroid.
- Japan had sent Hayabusa.
- It was launched in 2014 to collect samples from Ryugu.
- It reached Ryugu in 2018.
- It spent 18 months there and returned to the earth in December 2020.
- European Space Agency had sent Rosetta Mission to explore comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko in 2004.
- It was the first mission to orbit a comet.
- It was also the first mission to land a probe on its surface.