After almost five years in space, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx (Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer) spacecraft is returning to Earth. Its return is with the richness of rocks and dust from the near-Earth asteroid Bennu, says the US space agency.
The spacecraft is expected to reach Earth on September 24, 2023, after encircling the Sun two times.
On Monday, May 10, at 4.23 p.m. EDT, the spacecraft fired up its core engines full throttle for seven minutes — it’s most important maneuver ever since its arrival at Bennu in 2018.
This blaze thrust the spacecraft far away from the asteroid at 600 miles per hour. Which is around 1,000 km per hour, positioning it on a 2.5-year cruise in the direction of Earth, says NASA.
After issuing the sample capsule, OSIRIS-REx will blaze its machines to fly by Earth securely, setting it on a course to circle the sun in the interior of Venus’ orbit.
“OSIRIS-REx’s many achievements exhibit bold and innovate path in which discovery develops in actual time,” says Thomas Zurbuchen. He is the associate administrator for science at NASA Headquarters.
“The squad rises to the challenge, and now we have a primeval piece of our solar system traveled back to Earth where several generations of scientists can reveal its secrets,” he adds.
OSIRIS-REx surpassed a lot of expectations. Mostly in recent times, in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, the crew perfectly performed the operation’s crucial task. It is gathering more than 2 ounces (60 grams) of topsoil from Bennu’s surface.
The operation was contributory in both verifying and contradicting numerous scientific discoveries. Among those few are as follows:
- A procedure that utilized interpretations from Earth to forecast that the mineral deposits. And that these deposits on the asteroid would be carbon-rich and showing indications of ancient water.
- Another discovery proves ineffective which says that Bennu will have a flat surface. Researchers predicted by calculating how much temperature emitted off its surface.
Researchers will make use of the data collected from Bennu to enhance theoretical prototypes and develop upcoming projections.
“This task highlights why we have to do science and discovery in numerous approaches — both from Earth and from up-close in space. This is because assumptions and models are just that,” says Heather Enos. Heather is the OSIRIS-REx deputy principal investigator, based at the University of Arizona, Tucson.