Beginning a mission that could revolutionize our understanding of the early Solar System, NASA has launched first asteroid sampling probe on 8th sep. 2016 at 7:05 pm. EDT from cape Canaveral in Florida.
It is named as OSIRISREx (Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, and Security-Regolith Explorer). It is return a sample of the asteroid Bennu. Scientists believe that asteroids may have been a source of water and organic molecules for the young Earth and other planetary bodies. If so this could help the earth in future with a great role in conserving the live and expanding too. An uncontaminated asteroid sample from a known source would enable precise analyses that is providing results far beyond what can be achieved by spacecraft-based instruments or by studying meteorites that fell to the earth.
This mission OSIRIS-Rex will approach Bennu in August 2018 which will map the asteroid in 3-D, while studying its characteristic in preparation for the sample collection. Then in july 2020, the spacecraft perform a daring manoeuvre in which its 11-foot arm will reach out and perform a five-second “high-five” to stir up surface material, collecting up to 2 kg (4.4 lb) of rocks and dust in a sample return container. It will bring the sample back to Earth in September 2023, when it will be transported to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston for detailed examination.
Here is a video showing the lauch of the OSIRIS-Rex
OSIRIS-Rex will be the U.S. first mission to bring samples of an asteroid back to earth and the largest sample returned from space since Apollo 17. The probe has separated from its Atlas V rocket at 8:04 p.m after it launched into space. The solar arrays were successfully deployed and are now powering the spacecraft. This has made a great successful to the NASA in asteroid field.
Mike Donnelly, project manager said “It’s satisfying to see the culmination of years of effort from this outstanding team”. “We were able to deliver OSIRIS-REx on time and under budget to the launch site, and will soon do something that no other NASA spacecraft has done i.e. bring back a sample from an asteroid.”
The probe features a camera suite that will obtain high-resolution imaging and recordings of the acquisition. “PolyCam”, an 8-inch telescope, will take a photos with increasingly high detail as the spacecraft approached the asteroid. “MapCam” will search for any outgassing plumes or natural satellites, as well as fully mapping the asteroid in 3-D and in four different colours. A third and final camera, “SamCam” will continuously document the sample acquisitions.
A member of the Apollo group, Bennu is a potential Earth impactor that is listed on the Sentry Risk Table and has the third highest rating of any object on the Palermo Technical Impact Hazard Scale. There is a 1 in 2,700 chance of it colliding between the years 2169 and 2199. With a mean diameter of 492m (1,614 ft), and travelling at 63,000 mph, it is calculated that such an impact would have a kinetic energy of 1200 Megatons. This would be 24 times more powerful than the Tsar Bomba, the largest nuclear weapon ever detonated, or about 80,000 times greater than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.