OSIRIS-REx, NASA’s asteroid sample-return mission, is reaching its exciting final stage as the spacecraft recently made a crucial maneuver to ensure it stays on track towards Earth. The trajectory-correction maneuver involved firing the spacecraft’s attitude-control thrusters, slightly adjusting its velocity to prevent it from flying past our planet.
After a long and successful mission, OSIRIS-REx is carrying around 8.8 ounces of dirt and gravel collected from the potentially hazardous asteroid named Bennu. This precious cargo is set to be delivered to Earth on September 24. The capsule containing the asteroid samples will land in a specific area on the Department of Defense’s Utah Test and Training Range, which is located southwest of Salt Lake City.
The arrival of these samples is highly anticipated by scientists who are eager to study them. By analyzing the asteroid samples, researchers hope to gain insights into the formation and evolution of our solar system. In addition, they aim to understand the role of carbon-rich asteroids like Bennu in delivering the essential building blocks of life.
Currently, OSIRIS-REx is about 4 million miles away from Earth. If necessary, the spacecraft may perform one more thruster firing on September 17 to fine-tune its trajectory. However, all indications suggest that everything is on track for a successful return mission.
Looking ahead, once OSIRIS-REx completes its delivery to Earth, it will continue its exploration journey. The spacecraft’s next destination is the asteroid Apophis, which it will reach in 2029. This future mission will further expand our understanding of asteroids and their significance in unraveling the mysteries of our universe.
As the final stages of OSIRIS-REx’s historic mission unfold, the scientific community eagerly awaits the arrival of the asteroid samples. This remarkable endeavor not only showcases NASA’s expertise in space exploration but also highlights the importance of studying asteroids in advancing our knowledge of the cosmos.
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