NASA's OSIRIS-REx mission has safely delivered samples from asteroid Bennu to Earth. After an epic journey spanning over four billion miles, the capsule carrying approximately 250 grams of asteroid material successfully touched down at the U.S. Army's Dugway Proving Ground in Utah.
The landing marked the first-ever collection and return of an asteroid sample by NASA. To ensure the integrity of the samples, the capsule was swiftly transported to a temporary clean room on-site, where it underwent a nitrogen purge, safeguarding it from potential earthly contaminants.
The OSIRIS-REx mission, which was launched in 2016, involved the spacecraft's arrival at Bennu in 2018 and the collection of samples in 2020. This remarkable achievement promises groundbreaking scientific insights into the origins of our solar system, the emergence of life on Earth, and the potential hazards posed by asteroids.
The samples will be transported by aircraft to NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, where curation scientists will extract and analyze them. A portion of the samples will be distributed to scientists worldwide for further research.