CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (AP) – A NASA spacecraft more than 200 million miles away has inserted asteroid samples into a capsule to return to Earth after losing some of its precious prey, scientists said Thursday.
Flight controllers ascended the key operation after some of the debris collected spilled into space last week.
The Osiris-Rex spacecraft collected pebbles and other pieces of the asteroid Bennu on October 20, briefly touching the surface with its robot arm and sucking up everything there. So much was collected ̵
All that is left will not leave the Bennu neighborhood until March, when the asteroid and Earth are properly aligned. It will be 2023 – seven years after the Osiris-Rex rocket from Cape Canaveral – before the samples arrive here.
This is the first mission in the United States to deal with asteroid samples. Japan has done it twice on other space rocks and expects its last batch to arrive in December.
The carbon-rich solar orbit Bennu is thought to preserve the preserved building blocks of the solar system. Scientists say the remains could help explain how the planets in our solar system formed billions of years ago and how life on Earth came into being. They can also help improve our chances, they said, if Doomsday rock heads us.
Bennu – a black, rounded rock larger than the New York Empire State Building – could approach Earth dangerously at the end of the next decade. The chances of a strike are 1 in 2,700. The good news is that as long as you pack a blow, it will not destroy your home planet.
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