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NASA Returns First Asteroid Sample to Earth: How Will They Retrieve the Remaining Samples?

NASA scientists successfully returned an asteroid sample to Earth in September, making them the first US space agency to do so.

All they have to do now is figure out how to open the touch-and-go sample acquisition mechanism, or TAGSAM, to retrieve the remaining samples, according to NASA.

The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft logged approximately seven years of travel, surveying and collecting samples from the asteroid Bennu before returning to Earth on September 24, 2023.

“Scientists hope so pino sample NASA wrote on its website that the “OSIRIS-REx” dropped in the Utah desert will provide clues to whether an asteroid that collided with Earth billions of years ago brought water and other important components of life here.

Although scientists are still working to access the remaining samples sealed in the TAGSAM head, they were able to collect 2.48 ounces, or 70.3 grams, of rock and dust from the sampler.

Initial deliveries have exceeded NASA’s goal of bringing at least 60 grams to Earth.

Here’s what we know.

How do NASA scientists plan to recover the remaining samples?

Most of the samples scientists have collected so far are located on the outside of the OSIRIS-REx head, and can be accessed through the head’s mylar cover. The rest lies within TAGSAM.

A team of scientists at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston tried to remove the TAGSAM head several times, but found that two of the 35 fasteners could not be removed using the tools the team was currently authorized to use.

“The TAGSAM head has over 35 fasteners, but there are only 35 that we plan to remove. The two stuck were among the last to be released. All other fasteners were successfully removed. “We don’t know why these last two are stuck, but we are working actively. “We will continue to look for potential solutions as we continue to make progress in our sample processing procedures for the 70.3 grams of material that has been retrieved from TAGSAM,” said Francis McCubbin, curator of astronomical materials at Johnson Space Center.

Some of the material was collected when the team attached the Mylar cap to the head by removing the sample from inside using tweezers or a scoop, depending on the size of the material extracted.

NASA said scientists will take the next two weeks to retrieve the remaining samples from the TAGSAM head with the new technology, process the collected material, and begin analyzing the bulk samples. October 20.

The TAGSAM head was removed from the active nitrogen stream in the glove box and stored in its transport case, sealed with an O-ring and placed in a sealed Teflon bag to ensure the sample remained safe while the team removed the solution to access the rest. from the sample.

Since all work on the samples including the TAGSAM head was done in a special glove box under a flow of nitrogen to prevent them from being exposed to the Earth’s atmosphere, the instruments of any proposed solution had to be able to fit into the glove box and not be compromised. scientific integrity of the kit. According to NASA.

What has NASA discovered so far?

Preliminary studies of 4.5 billion-year-old asteroid samples suggest that the basic ingredients of life on Earth can be found in rocks, which contain high percentages of carbon and water, according to an American “space” website. NASA.

“Almost everything we do at NASA aims to answer questions about who we are and where we come from. NASA missions like OSIRIS-REx will improve our understanding of asteroids that could threaten Earth, while giving us a glimpse of what lies beyond.” “Samples have returned to Earth, but there’s still a lot of science to come – science we’ve never seen before,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson previously said.

The properties of the carbon compounds discovered could provide insight into how the solar system formed, how the raw materials for life may have been distributed on Earth, and what precautions should be taken to avoid asteroid collisions.

again: Researchers found signs of rivers on Mars, possible indicators of ancient life

2023-10-29 13:58:33
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