NASA probe Osiris-Rex with asteroid sample on board is scheduled to fly back

NASA’s “Osiris-Rex” probe is expected to make its way back to Earth on Monday with an asteroid sample on board. According to plans by the US space agency, the probe will leave the orbit of the asteroid Bennu, from which it collected dust and debris in October, at around 10 p.m. German time. It was the first time a US missile took a sample from an asteroid. NASA had announced the start of the return mission live in several social networks transferred to.

It is expected that it will take until September 2023 for the probe to deliver its cargo after a flight of around 2.3 billion kilometers, according to NASA. “Osiris-Rex” (the abbreviation stands for: Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer) was launched from the Cape Canaveral spaceport in September 2016 and arrived at Bennu around two years later. Since then, the probe, which is around six meters long and weighs 2100 kilograms, has orbited the asteroid and examined it with its scientific instruments and cameras.

The asteroid Bennu is jet black, larger than the Empire State Building and not entirely harmless: Since its discovery in 1999, scientists have had a special eye on the asteroid. One day it could come dangerously close to earth, even if that would not be for more than 150 years and the risk is very low. Nevertheless, according to NASA, Bennu is one of the most dangerous of the currently known asteroids.

The $ 1 billion mission is NASA’s first attempt to bring a sample from an asteroid to Earth. The Japanese space probe Hayabusa landed on such a celestial body back in 2005 and brought the first soil samples ever collected from an asteroid to Earth in 2010. In 2014, the European space agency ESA set down the Philae mini-laboratory with the Rosetta space probe on comet 67P / Churyumov-Gerasimenko, but contact was broken. (with material from dpa) /

(Bild: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona)


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