Who doesn’t love showing off their collection of cool rocks? It was NASA after struggling with it for a few months, last week and now looks back at what’s inside. The space agency released a high-resolution image of the newly launched Touch-and-Go Sampling Instrument (TAGSAM) OSIRIS-REx on Friday, revealing all the dust and rock that has broken off the asteroid’s surface.
The image is large, so you can zoom in to see the finer details of the pattern. View full size version . Scientists have a lot of material to work with as a member of the OSIRIS-REx team They plan to make the most of microanalytical techniques to “really break it down, almost down to the atomic scale,” he said in September. Asteroid Bennu, estimated to be about 4.5 billion years old, may hold clues to the formation of our solar system and how the building blocks of life first arrived on Earth.
Scientists have already detected signs of carbon and water in the excess material they found outside of TAGSAM. Although they hoped to retrieve at least 2.1 ounces (60 grams) of regolith from the asteroid, OSIRIS-REx was able to capture much more. The team obtained 2.48 ounces (70.3 grams) of the “bonus” material collected in the sampler alone. NASA plans to spend the next two years analyzing parts of the sample, but most of it will be preserved for future research and shared with other scientists.