Nasa collects soil sample on asteroid Bennu

JUpset and applause in the control center of the American space agency Nasa: During a complicated maneuver lasting several hours, the “Osiris Rex” probe was the first American missile to take a sample from an asteroid on Wednesday night. It should arrive on earth in around three years. “The missile did everything it was supposed to do,” said Dante Lauretta, the mission’s chief scientist. “I can’t believe we managed to do this. It’s historical, that’s wonderful. “

Whether the sample taken is usable and sufficient will only be known in the coming days after “Osiris Rex” has sent further data to Earth, said Lauretta. The NASA scientists hope for at least 60 and up to 2000 grams of dust, rubble and rocks.

„Touch and go“

The probe was in orbit of the Asteroids Temporarily left Bennu and approached him within a few meters. Using a kind of robotic arm called the “Tagsam” (Touch-And-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism), she touched the surface of the asteroid for about five seconds, ejecting pressurized nitrogen to stir up sample material. After sucking up the sample, the probe moved away from Bennu and made its way back into its orbit. NASA had previously successfully rehearsed the maneuver twice.

When the successful completion of the maneuver at the Nasa control center in Maryland was announced, many of the scientists – all in blue T-shirts and protective masks – jumped, clapped and cheered. Some had tears in their eyes.

A second attempt to collect samples could take place in January. The space probe is scheduled to begin its long journey back to Earth in March and arrive there in September 2023.

The jet black Bennu, named after an ancient Egyptian deity, was chosen from 500,000 known asteroids. With a diameter of around 550 meters, it has ideal dimensions. In addition, it could come very close to Earth in a good 150 years. Even if the risk of impact is very low, Nasa Bennu is one of the most dangerous asteroids currently known – and therefore wants to research it very carefully.

In addition, the scientists hope that the mission, which cost around one billion dollars, will provide information about the formation of the solar system more than 4.5 billion years ago, because asteroids are remnants of it.

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