May 27, 2024

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NASA's final tally shows that the spacecraft returned twice the amount of asteroid debris

NASA's final tally shows that the spacecraft returned twice the amount of asteroid debris

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – NASA has finally counted all the asteroid samples is back by a spacecraft last fall — twice the goal of returning the debris.

Officials reported Thursday Osiris-Rex spacecraft I collected 121.6 grams (4.29 ounces) of Dust and gravel From the asteroid Bennu. That's just over half a cup and is the largest cosmic amount ever taken from outside the Moon.

It took NASA longer than expected to open the sample container due to stuck fasteners.

A sample return capsule from NASA's OSIRIS-REx mission shortly after landing in the desert, Sept. 24, 2023, at the Department of Defense Test and Training Range in Utah. Keegan Barber/NASA

The black, carbon-rich samples — the first ever collected by NASA from an asteroid — are stored in a special processing laboratory at Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Osiris-Rex returned the samples last September, three years after collecting them from the asteroid. The $1 billion mission could have cost more, but rocks jammed the lid of the container after it was captured and some samples floated away.

The spacecraft is now on its way to another space rock, but that will only involve a non-stop flyby to pick up samples.

The OSIRIS REx processing team poured the sample from the TAGSAM head and examined the sample material, on January 19. Robert Markowitz/NASA-JSC
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