The probe approached the surface of a celestial body with a diameter of 500 meters, known as the asteroid Bennu, literally for a few seconds.
The American probe OSIRIS-REx, located 320 million kilometers from Earth, approached the asteroid Bennu and took soil samples from its surface. This was announced on Tuesday, October 20, by the NASA probe on Twitter.
For the operation, a point in a crater with a diameter of about 20 meters in the northern part of the asteroid was previously selected.
According to NASA, the rod with a special device for collecting soil touched the surface of the asteroid for just 16 seconds. At that moment, one of the nitrogen capsules emitted a cloud of compressed gas, under the influence of which the soil particles settled on the inner surface of the device.
About how successful the operation was and how much soil was collected, it will become known not earlier than Saturday.
The OSIRIS-REx probe is known to have been launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida in September 2016. He reached Bennu in December 2018 and a little later entered the asteroid’s orbit for the first time. The probe is to return to Earth in September 2023 and deliver soil samples.
Bennu is an old asteroid located at a distance of more than 320 million km from Earth. Some of Bennu’s mineral fragments may be older than the solar system, scientists say. The diameter of the asteroid is 492 meters.
Bennu’s research will allow scientists to look into the early solar system and learn more about how life began on Earth, NASA notes.
Recall that during this period, the Earth passes through a stream of meteors from the tail of Halley’s comet. Therefore, those who like to admire the night sky can witness an interesting phenomenon when the flow rate will reach about 20 meteors per hour.