NASA Successfully Stows Asteriod Sample, Manages To Close Leaky Spacecraft - Statement
WASHINGTON (UrduPoint News / Sputnik - 30th October, 2020) A sample of dust and rocks collected from the surface of the asteroid Bennu is safely stowed inside the OSIRIS-Rex spacecraft and the vessel sealed after two days of around-the-clock efforts to stop a leaking sample due to a rock wedged in the spacecraft's outer hatch, NASA said in a press release.
"The spacecraft completed the final step of the sample stowage process - closing the SRC [sample return capsule]. To secure the capsule, the spacecraft closed the lid and then fastened two internal latches. As of late Oct. 28, the sample of Bennu is safely stored and ready for its journey to Earth," the release said on Thursday.
OSIRIS-REx probe snagged so much dirt and rock during a six-second touchdown on the surface of the asteroid Bennu on Tuesday that the spacecraft's sampling mechanism did not close properly, the release said.
The storage process was expedited when the mission team received images that showed the spacecraft's collector head overflowing with material, some of which appeared to be slowly escaping from the head, the release said.
A flap designed to keep the sample inside the head appeared to be wedged open by some larger rocks. Now that the head is secure inside the SRC, pieces of the sample will no longer be lost, the release .
Given that OSIRIS-REx is currently more than 205 million miles from Earth, ground control had to deal with an 18.5-minute time delay for radio signals traveling in each direction to secure the sample, the release added.
The space craft is expected back on Earth in September 2023, with material from deep space that scientists hope will expand knowledge of the universe and provide clues on how the solar system was formed, according to the release.