They are in a capsule traveling towards Earth. NASA scientific and technical teams announced it. The arrival of samples from the asteroid Bennu is very close. Bennu is a billion-year-old celestial body.
«The team is finalizing preparations to receive the sample. It will help us understand how our solar system was born and evolved. “We have waited a long time.” This was said by the principal investigator of NASA’s Osiris-Rex mission, Dante Lauretta, in a teleconference.
Fall in Utah
The Osiris-Rex spacecraft will release the capsule with what was collected from the more than 4 billion year-old asteroid. It will fall into the Earth’s atmosphere, ending the trip in the desert of the state of Utah (USA).
«We trust that everything will go as planned. Everything is perfectly fine with the spaceship. “We made a minor trajectory adjustment days ago, no other maneuvers are needed.” That was added by the head of the Osiris-Rex program, Sandra Freund. The entry of the capsule will be constantly tracked. When it reaches the ground, assisted by parachutes, the teams will approach the place on the test field.
Once the capsule is secured, scientists will prepare it for transport. They will then catalog the environment around the drop zone. «We will collect any material that has been in contact with the ship. Air, soil samples, dust, and if there is water in the place we will also collect water,” explained Lauretta. The sample includes rocks and soil from Bennu, collected in October 2020 after a four-year journey. Scientists hope to find simple molecules in the sample. It will be opened in a special laboratory on Tuesday morning.
«We hope to find very simple molecules, such as amino acids. It would be spectacular if we saw those amino acids form a chain that would give evidence of protein evolution. It is probably a remote possibility, but it would be spectacular,” added the head of the scientific project.
The arrival of the asteroid samples anticipates other missions. After releasing the capsule, the ship will return to space to continue its mission by observing another asteroid, called Apophis. But the recovery of samples of this and other objects will depend on what happens with Sunday’s operation.