NASA finally got the stuck lid off its asteroid Bennu sample container

You’d think scooping up a scoop of dirt from an orbiting space rock and then delivering it to Earth would be the most complicated part of an asteroid sample collection mission, but it turns out the real challenge is getting that sample container open once. returns home. It’s been a little over three months, though The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft said it had finally removed two stuck connectors that were blocking access to much of the material collected from asteroid Bennu. OSIRIS-REx launched the sample on September 24 to study another asteroid, Apophis.

While NASA was able to first The interior of the Touch and Go Sampling Mechanism (TAGSAM) was found to be closed due to problems with two of the 35 fasteners that held the container closed. To prevent sample contamination, TAGSAM is placed in a special glove box and only certain instruments are approved for use with it. None of the existing tools worked to remove stubborn fasteners from the TAGSAM head, so the team had to develop new ones.

“In addition to the design challenge of being limited to approved materials to preserve the scientific value of the asteroid sample, these new instruments had to operate in the tight confines of a glove box, limiting their height, weight and capacity. arc motion,” said OSIRIS-REx curator Dr. Nicole Lunning. Now that the TAGSAM head has been released, the team can move forward with dismantling the container, meaning we’ll soon be able to see what’s inside. NASA’s preliminary assessment of dust and rocks outside TAGSAM found evidence of carbon and water.

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