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NASA capsule brings pattern from asteroid to Earth for the primary time in American historical past: ‘We have now landing!’ Specific Occasions

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For the primary time in U.S. historical past, samples from an asteroid in deep area that had been captured by NASA fell to Earth and landed within the Utah desert on Sunday, ending a seven-year journey.

The Osiris-Rex spacecraft flew by Earth on Sunday morning, releasing a capsule containing the pattern, from almost 63,000 miles away. 4 hours later, the capsule landed on a stretch of navy land because the Osiris-Rex spacecraft launched into a journey to chase after one other asteroid.

“We have now landing!” Mission Restoration Operations introduced, instantly repeating the information for the reason that touchdown occurred three minutes early. Officers later stated the orange striped parachute opened 4 occasions increased than anticipated — round 20,000 toes (6,100 meters) — basing it on the deceleration fee.

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The pattern return capsule from NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission is seen shortly after touching down within the desert, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2023, on the Division of Defenses Utah Check and Coaching Vary. The pattern was collected from the asteroid Bennu in October 2020 by NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft.  (Picture Credit score: NASA/Keegan Barber)

NASA stated on its web site that radar knowledge from the property the place the capsule was anticipated to land, confirmed the area bundle entered the environment at 10:42 a.m. off the coast of California, as deliberate.

Then, the drogue parachute, which is the smaller of two onboard, opened after the capsule entered the environment to assist with stability, earlier than separating from the capsule.

The primary parachute deployed at 10:47 a.m., slowing the capsule down from hypersonic pace to 11 mph earlier than it touched the bottom.

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Asteroid sample retrieval

Lockheed Martin System Security Engineer Victoria Thiem, left, and On Scene Commander of Restoration Stuart Wylie, proper, carry out preliminary checks on the pattern return capsule from NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2023, shortly after the capsule landed on the Division of Protection’s Utah Check and Coaching Vary. The pattern was collected from the asteroid Bennu in October 2020 by NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft.  (Picture Credit score:  NASA/Keegan Barber)

A serious concern after touching down was making certain the contents didn’t turn out to be contaminated.

To NASA’s aid, the capsule didn’t look like breached when it was recovered, and the 4.5-billion-year-old samples had been freed from contamination.

Two hours after touchdown, the capsule was in a brief clear room on the Protection Division’s Utah Textual content and Coaching Vary after being carried by a helicopter.

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Asteroid capsule retrieval team

From left to proper, NASA Astromaterials Curator Francis McCubbin, NASA Pattern Return Capsule Science Lead Scott Sandford, and College of Arizona OSIRIS-REx Principal Investigator Dante Lauretta, accumulate science knowledge, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2023, shortly after the pattern return capsule from NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission landed on the Division of Protection’s Utah Check and Coaching Vary. The pattern was collected from the asteroid Bennu in October 2020 by NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft.  (Picture Credit score: NASA/Keegan Barber)

“It’s like ‘Wow!’” NASA astronaut Sunita Williams, who was in Utah coaching for her personal area capsule mission, stated. “That is simply wonderful. It will possibly go from the flicks, however that is actuality.”

The capsule holds roughly a cup of rubble from the asteroid often known as Bennu, which is supposedly carbon-rich. Regardless of how a lot the capsule can maintain, it is not going to be recognized for certain till the container is opened in a few day or two.

A few of the materials scooped up through the mission three years in the past, spilled and floated away after it grabbed an excessive amount of, jamming the lid.

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Asteroid Capsule

The pattern return capsule from NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission is seen shortly after touching down within the desert, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2023, on the Division of Protection’s Utah Check and Coaching Vary. The pattern was collected from the asteroid Bennu in October 2020 by NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft.  (Picture Credit score: NASA/Keegan Barber)

Japan is the one different nation to get samples from an asteroid. In reality, the nation has been in a position to accumulate a few teaspoon throughout a pair of asteroid missions.

NASA’s haul on Sunday is the most important to be retrieved from an object additional than the moon.

Osiris-Rex blasted off into area in 2016, marking the start of a $1 billion mission.

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An illustration of OSIRIS-REx approaching Bennu

This illustration exhibits NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft descending in the direction of asteroid Bennu to gather a pattern of the asteroid’s floor.  (Credit: NASA/Goddard/College of Arizona)

The spaceship reached Bennu two years later and used an extended stick vacuum to materials from the small area rock. As soon as it returned to Earth, the mothership had traveled 4 billion miles.

The samples shall be flown Monday morning to a brand new lab at NASA’s Johnson House Heart in Houston. The constructing already homes the tons of of kilos (kilograms) of moon rocks gathered by the Apollo astronauts.

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It’ll take a couple of weeks to get a exact measurement, stated NASA’s lead curator Nicole Lunning.

NASA plans a public show-and-tell in October.

The Related Press contributed to this report.


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