Just as any other structure in the Universe and the Universe itself, our Solar System also had a beginning. About 4.5 billion years ago, a dense cloud of gas and dust began to collapse due to gravity. As a result, our Solar System was born.
But whether scientists like to admit it or not, there’s still a lot more to learn about the formation of our Solar System. That’s why NASA adds a lot of faith in the OSIRIS-REx asteroid-study and sample-return mission. After a journey of five years to the Bennu asteroid to collect samples of dust and rocks, the spacecraft is on its way back to Earth. The mission is led by a group of scientists having Dante Lauretta from the University of Arizona as a key member.
Returning the samples safely could be a challenge
If OSIRIS-Rex reveals anything new about the Solar System, as Lauretta and NASA members hope, the scientists must be extremely careful with the return of the spacecraft to Earth.
Dante Lauretta stated:
We have to time the release of that capsule very precisely. If it comes in too shallow, it’ll skip off the top of the atmosphere, kind of like skipping rocks. If it comes in too steep, the amount of heating will be enormous and the capsule will just be disintegrated upon entry.
The scientist also added:
OSIRIS REx is a very capable spacecraft that did an amazing job mapping out value and ultimately collecting the sample right now, its primary mission is to bring those samples back to Earth, but only one component of the spacecraft actually comes through the atmosphere, what we call our ‘sample return capsule.’ The rest of the vehicle with its propulsion system its power system and most importantly its science instruments is still very capable.