The US space agency NASA recently made history when its spacecraft successfully touched an asteroid’s surface. The agency’s OSIRIS-REx collected dust and pebbles from asteroid Bennu. Bennu is over 321 million kilometers away from Earth. But now the spacecraft is stuffed with cosmic rubble. Scientists said that the spacecraft’s one door is open. As a result, the collected particles are leaking into space. NASA launched OSIRIS-REx in 2016. Its objective is to study the Bennu and return the sample. After it circled Bennu for two years, NASA decided to collect samples from its surface. Bennu was first discovered in 1999. It is an Apollo group asteroid. It is believed to be hazardous.
OSIRIS-REx unfurled its robotic arm to collect the sample from Bennu. The OSIRIS-REx team said that the spacecraft initially performed the task as planned. But the team has now discovered that particles are escaping. The team came to this conclusion after analyzing the images of the spacecraft’s collector head. They noticed that the spacecraft collected more samples than they had expected. NASA wanted to bring approximately 60 grams of rubble. But the robotic arm of the spacecraft supposedly captured 400 grams of rubble. The large rocks and rubble have now jammed the flap. The flap is open. It should have closed to keep the rubble safe inside the fitted container.
According to NASA, the spacecraft’s robotic arm had made contact with Bennu’s surface. The total time of contact lasted for just six seconds, 10 seconds less than what was planned. The arm penetrated Bennu’s surface and collected most of the sample in the first three seconds. The mission was required to collect not more than 60 grams of dust and rock. But it collected material more than what was planned. According to NASA, the concerned team is looking to minimize the loss. The agency believes that a detailed study of Bennu rubble will help scientists understand the evolution of the solar system. The spacecraft is likely to begin its journey to Earth in early 2021. It will arrive on Earth in 2023.