NASA’s First Asteroid Sample Returns to Earth in Utah Desert

NASA’s First Asteroid Sample Returns to Earth in Utah Desert

Soil samples from an asteroid were successfully returned to Earth on Sunday Morning.

NASA’s Osiris-Rex spacecraft delivered the sample back to Earth from an asteroid 63,000 miles away. It entered Earth’s atmosphere at an amazing 27,000 miles per hour while carrying about a half pound of the soil. It landed outside of Salt Lake City, Utah at a U.S. Military testing range.

New York Post:

A NASA spacecraft captured soil samples from an asteroid that may come close to hitting Earth in the next 200 years and parachuted the capsule into a Utah desert Sunday morning.

The flyover marked a successful mission for NASA’s Osiris-Rex spacecraft, which dropped the samples from the asteroid Bennu while flying about 63,000 miles from Earth’s surface.

The tire-sized space capsule rocketed through Earth’s atmosphere at 27,000 mph from deep space, carrying about 9 ounces of rocks, dust, and dirt.

About four hours after releasing the capsule — which collected the largest soil sample ever gathered from the surface of an asteroid — the capsule touched down within a designated landing zone west of Salt Lake City on the US military’s vast Utah Test and Training Range.

Scientists will have a better idea of how much of the soil is in there once they open the capsule. Three years ago when the spacecraft was returning, some of the soil floated away because it was overfilled causing the lid to jam.

The spacecrafts first mission to the asteroid Bennu was in 2016. It took two years to get there and traveled four billion miles by 2020 upon its return.

Bennu orbits the Sun about 50 million miles from Earth and is the size of a skyscraper. It is supposed to fly very close to Earth in 2182 and scientists say there is a one in 2,700 chance that it will hit Earth, which would cause a lot of destruction.

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Author: David Greyson