The capsule released by NASA’s Osiris-Rex probe has arrived on Earth. He carries with him 250 grams of samples taken from the soil of the asteoid Bennu. The probe landed in the Utah desert, in the area of the Uttr (Utah Test and Training Range) base of the United States Ministry of Defense.
NASA: “It’s a time capsule”
Launched in 2016, the Osiris-Rex probe collected samples from the soil of the asteroid Bennu in October 2020. According to what the first images released by the helicopters that reached the landing site for recovery operations indicate, the capsule appears intact. For safety, the technicians who are approaching the capsule have their hands covered by gloves and their faces by a mask to protect themselves from the possible release of harmful substances. “It’s a time capsule,” NASA experts said, referring to the fact that the samples could tell a lot about both the origins of the Solar System and the elements needed to assemble the molecules at the basis of life.
The new mission
The probe is already ready to leave towards its new target, the asteroid Apophis. In the new mission, called Osiris-Apex, it will have to reach the asteroid about 32,000 kilometers away. Its arrival is expected in 2029, when it will enter orbit around this new Solar System fossil about 300 kilometers wide, just after the asteroid passes close to Earth.