It is considered one of the most exciting missions in space travel: space probe Osiris-Rex is now starting its return flight after a number of mishaps.
Texas, USA – Osiris-Rex will be on the road for two years: The U.S. space probe Osiris-Rex is on its way back to Earth, which it is scheduled to reach in 2023. Previously, Nasa’s probe had paid a visit to the asteroid Bennu. Osiris-Rex collected rock samples from the surface of the asteroid. However, it encountered a number of problems in the process. Nevertheless, the rock samples can provide science with important insights. Now the probe has left the orbit of the asteroid, as Nasa announced on Monday (10.05.2021).
Bennu is among one of the most dangerous asteroids of the approximately 500,000 that are known. The asteroid is about four and a half billion years old, has a diameter of about 500 meters and is at least 469,737.31 kilometers from Earth.
In 150 years, Bennu threatens to come dangerously close to Earth, Nasa and Esa fear. That’s why the samples are eagerly awaited. But even so, the Osiris-Rex mission is interesting for space research. The researchers hope that the rock samples will provide new insights into our solar system and asteroids.
Nasa: Problems occurred during risky landing of space probe Osiris Rex on asteroid Bennu
Osiris-Rex launched from Earth in 2016 and had successfully collected rock and dust samples on asteroid Bennu in October 2020. However, the mission did not go smoothly.
When Osiris-Rex landed on asteroid Bennu, an accident occurred that nearly ended the mission prematurely: during landing, the probe blew nitrogen onto Benno’s surface. This served to stir up dust in order to be able to collect enough material. Then, however, Osiris-Rex took up too much material. As a result, Osiris-Rex could no longer close the lid of its robot arm.
Therefore, only a part of the material could be saved. Nevertheless, there are 60 grams of rock samples that Osiris-Rex is now transporting to Earth. The samples should provide further insights for space research.
Asteroid Bennu: Rock samples could provide information about the asteroid
And another mishap happened: Osiris-Rex arm sank several centimeters into the Earth’s surface during landing. The soil of the asteroid Bennu turned out to be less dense than suspected. Already before the surface of Bennu gave cause for speculations. Initially, researchers thought that Bennu’s surface consisted of sand. Only in 2018, newer images showed that Bennu’s surface is a rocky landscape.
Osiris-Rex is expected to return in 2023. Before the Nasa probe lands in the U.S. desert, the capsule containing the rock samples will be safely dropped to Earth by parachute. (Delia Friess) It wasn’t until 2019 that a cosmic streak occurred, as Asteroid 2019 OK sped past Earth.