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The Grizzly Gazette

The Grizzly Gazette

The Grizzly Gazette

Galactic Garbage

Abdul Moizjaangda

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) sent out a capsule to collect a sample from Benmu, an asteroid that resides near Earth. On September 24 of last year, the capsule was dropped off in the Utah desert. The capsule was taken back to the NASA Johnson Space Center in Texas. The mission is called OSIRIS-REx. It’s NASA’s first-ever mission dedicated to capturing fragments of an asteroid. 

OSIRIS-REx stands for Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, and Security-Regolith Explorer. Oxford Dictionary defines regolith as, “the layer of unconsolidated rocky material covering bedrock.” 

At the NASA Johnson Space Center, they prepared particular glove boxes and other tools so they could touch the sample without tampering with its content. Interestingly, more material was collected than anticipated. So NASA scientists have not collected the core part of the sample.

NASA released a statement, “After multiple attempts at removal, the team discovered two of the 35 fasteners on the TAGSAM head could not be removed with the current tools approved for use in the OSIRIS-REx glovebox.”

The asteroid, Benmu, is 4.5 billion years old, and its contents will advance human knowledge of the nature of asteroids. If scientists understand more about asteroids, they can learn how to prevent an asteroid from destroying Earth. They can also learn more about the nature of our solar system. 

Asteroids are formed from leftover materials from the formation of the planets. Understanding the contents of asteroids could help scientists understand how the planets were formed, and how the solar system was created. 

From what they have been able to discover, they found a lot of carbon and water in the sample. 

Bill Nelson, a NASA Administrator said, “The OSIRIS-REx sample is the biggest carbon-rich asteroid sample ever delivered to Earth and will help scientists investigate the origins of life on our planet for generations to come.”

NASA scientists will work on opening the capsule until 2025, then they will keep 70 percent of the material at the NASA Johnson Space Center. Part of the other 30 percent will be donated to other international space agencies along with space centers for public display. 

While scientists on Earth work on opening the capsule, the spacecraft responsible will be fulfilling another mission. 

The spacecraft doing the mission dropped the contents off but went on another mission: OSIRIS-APEX. OSIRIS-APEX is to collect content from another asteroid near Earth, Apophis. APEX stands for Apophis Exploration. 

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