NASA probe reaches surface asteroid, 333 million kilometers from Earth

The American space probe Osiris-Rex has reached the surface of the asteroid Bennu. The mission aims to suck up space grit from the asteroid. According to the NASA space agency, everything went according to plan. โ€œTouchdown confirmedโ€, it sounded around midnight Dutch time.

Whether the probe has actually succeeded in sucking up space grit from Bennu, which is about 333 million kilometres away from Earth, is likely to be clear within a week. If it is not successful, the NASA team will have to send the probe back to Bennu‘s surface in January. The probe is intended to deliver the space grit to Earth by 2023, so scientists can get to work with it.

Osiris-Rex was launched four years ago by NASA to the asteroid and arrived there two years ago. Since then, the probe has floated around Bennu a few hundred meters away. During that period, the surface of the boulder was mapped. Bennu isn’t much bigger than the Empire State Building. The whole operation lasted over four hours and was carried out fully automatically.

Origin of the Earth

Scientists are very interested in the composition of such boulders as Bennu. The asteroid originated in the first ten million years of our solar system, more than 4.5 billion ago. It is expected that the asteroid will therefore be able to tell us a lot about that time. The earth originated from boulders similar to Bennu, which have been clumped together over time.

The purpose of the mission is to suck up at least 60 grams of space grit from Bennu, but scientists hope the probe has sucked up a few pounds.

The United States is not the first country to extract a monster from an asteroid to Earth. Previously, Japan already succeeded with the probe Hayabusa, but that involved a much smaller amount of material.

Earlier, the mission manager explained how the space probe works: