The OSIRIS-Rex spacecraft is currently during its mission in the outer space. On the 9th of April, the shuttle managed to accomplish one of the essential steps in its mission. The mission’s managers approved a rehearsal for the sample collecting and it went exactly as planned. The purpose of this mission is to collect rock samples from the surface of asteroid Bennu and bring them on the surface of Earth for several tests, reports on Spaceflight Now say.
On Tuesday, the spacecraft managed to orbit only 213 feet away from asteroid Bennu, which has been the closest point it managed to reach since its arrival in the outer space back in December 2018. The purpose of this rehearsal was to test OSIRIS-Rex’s sampling arm when approaching the asteroid Bennu.
The spacecraft’s mission is to reach asteroid’s surface in August and collect the necessary 2.1 ounces of gravelly surface samples. The journey back home is scheduled to finish in September 2023, when the spacecraft will reach Earth’s atmosphere.
About the OSIRIS-Rex Mission on Asteroid Bennu
The samples will be analyzed in specially designated laboratories to provide extensive data that would improve the forthcoming outer space experiments.
The surface of the asteroid Bennu has been closely monitored by OSIRIS-Rex with unique cameras and a Canadian sensor to determine its roughness. The samples are an essential part of the study since researchers are looking for signs of organic matter or chemicals on the surface of the asteroid.
Both the asteroid and the mission spacecraft are currently 143 million miles away from Earth’s surface. Back in 2016, OSIRIS-Rex started its mission from Cape Canaveral. The milestone is achieved on the 9th of April was unfortunately assisted by a limited number of employees because of the current lockdown measures.
The spacecraft will start its journey back on Earth next year in March. When reaching the atmosphere of our planet, it will release a return capsule where the rock samples are protected and stocked.