POT‘s OSIRIS-REx The spacecraft delivered an unprecedented 4.29 ounces of material from asteroid Bennu to Earth, exceeding its mission goals. Despite initial challenges, the sample was successfully obtained for future scientific research, ensuring a legacy of international collaboration and study of the origins of the solar system.
NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft delivered 4.29 ounces (121.6 grams) of material from asteroid Bennu when it returned to Earth on September 24, 2023; the largest asteroid sample ever collected in space and more than double the mission requirements.
Exceeding expectations from the start
The mission team needed at least 60 grams of material to meet the mission’s science goals, an amount that had already been exceeded before the Touch-and-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism (TAGSAM) head opened. complete. In October 2023, curation processors at the Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science (ARES) division at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston were able to collect small rocks and dust from inside the large container that housed TAGSAM’s head, as well as the interior of TAGSAM. head through the mylar head flap.
Disassembly of the TAGSAM head was halted in late October 2023, when the team encountered two stubborn fasteners that prevented them from completing the process to reveal the final sample it contained.
After designing, producing and testing new tooling, ARES engineers successfully removed the fasteners in January and completed disassembly of the TAGSAM head. The remaining Bennu sample was revealed and carefully poured into wedge-shaped containers. 1.81 ounces (51.2 grams) were collected from this spill. Combined with the 2.48 ounces (70.3 grams) previously measured and additional particles collected outside the spill, the total mass of the Bennu sample amounts to 4.29 ounces (121.6 grams).
Secure a legacy for future research
NASA will preserve at least 70% of the sample at Johnson for future research by scientists around the world, including future generations.
From NASA’s Johnson repository, the Bennu material will be placed in containers and distributed for researchers to study. As part of the OSIRIS-REx mission, a cohort of more than 200 scientists from around the world will explore the properties of regolith, including researchers from many US institutions and NASA partners. JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) and CSA (Canadian Space Agency), and more.
Later this spring, the curation team will publish a catalog of the OSIRIS-REx samples, making the asteroid sample available for the global scientific community to request.