History has been made as NASA spacecraft lands on the surface of an asteroid to collect samples of rock.
The spacecraft Osiris-Rex successfully avoided huge boulders and gathered samples from Bennu within few seconds.
The van-sized spacecraft used an 11-foot robotic arm to bounce off the surface of the asteroid during the brief yet significant landing.
On Tuesday, October 20 it successfully landed, to which, Dante Lauretta, who led the mission, told ‘I can’t believe we actually pulled this off. This is history. It’s amazing.’
Images from the spacecraft are being anticipated in order to observe if the robotic arm manages to grab enough of a sample for them to begin the journey back to Earth.
The spacecraft Osiris-Rex was launch four years ago with the sole purpose of landing on asteroid Bennu.
This is the first of its kind mission which has created a huge landmark and will assist to gather information on the asteroid.
The asteroid, Bennu is particularly significant, as it has a similar orbit to Earth, and believed that asteroids like such could have delivered building blocks of life to our planet.
The research is hugely important in terms of finding out more about where life originally came from; in 2018 the Osiris-Rex first reached Bennu, post which the team began looking for a safe spot to land. The area that got selected was named affectionately as Nightingale.
Yesterday the spacecraft automatically landed the surface of the asteroid, using commands from ground controllers near Denver.
It took almost 18 minutes from landing after which the spacecraft was able to get a signal back to the ground control to confirm the touchdown.
The team remains hopeful, but currently, it’s not clear about the amount of material collected.
In a statement released, Lauretta said-
After over a decade of planning, the team is overjoyed at the success of today’s sampling attempt.
Even though we have some work ahead of us to determine the outcome of the event – the successful contact, the TAGSAM gas firing, and back-away from Bennu are major accomplishments for the team. I look forward to analysing the data to determine the mass of the sample collected.
This mission can bring in huge changes and determine how life began on Earth. Stay connected for more updates.