NASA’s recent milestone might give us more answers to the secrets of our and the earth’s origins.
NASA just made history after it successfully took a sample from the surface of the ancient asteroid, Bennu, on Tuesday.
The Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) landed on the surface of the asteroid and briefly touched its surface to collect its ancient dust and pebbles.
Dante Lauretta, OSIRIS-REx’s Principal Investigator, calls the event “Touch-and-Go” (TAG) for its brief duration of touching the asteroid’s surface.
This is due to the asteroid’s low-gravity environment.
The asteroid’s characteristic makes it hard to stay on its surface for a long time.
This is NASA’s first mission to retrieve a sample from an asteroid, says Michelle Thaller, assistant director of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.
NASA streamed the event live on Tuesday through YouTube and garnered more than 600,000 viewers.
As soon as the spacecraft landed, the team at NASA exploded into celebration.
However, according to Lauretta, they still have to wait until Saturday to confirm if OSIRIS-REX was able to get the needed 60-gram sample from Bennu.
“This is amazing,” says NASA’s administrator, Jim Bridenstine.
Different institutions “have made it possible” to get a “piece of the most ancient solar system in our hands.”
In case OSIRIS-REx failed to get the required minimum sample of 60-gram from Bennu’s surface, NASA will attempt again in January.
As Old As the Earth!
The asteroid, Bennu is very old and mostly “undisturbed for billions of years,” per NASA.
In fact, it’s almost as old as the earth, which experts estimate to be around 4.54 billion years old.
According to scientists’ calculations, the primitive asteroid “formed in the first 10 million years of our solar system.”
Moreover, due to its preserved primordial characteristics, Bennu might further scientists’ study on how life formed on earth.